Helenium autumnale (Large-flowered Sneezeweed)

Helenium autumnale (Large-flowered Sneezeweed)

This is a tall (1-4’) plant with yellow blooms, and stems which are winged where the leaves and petioles clasp them. It has oblong, toothed leaves which are petoliate below and sessile above. There are often several flower heads per stem, and they are on 1-4” stalks. The flowers have 10-20 rays with 3 lobed tips, which surround a dome of disc flowers.

Helenium autumnale showing winged stems

Large-flowered Sneezeweed grows in damp ground and blooms in the late summer and fall, hence autumnale. In our region this native plant is found primarily along the Columbia and Snake Rivers, with disjunct populations in ne Washington and sw Oregon, but it is found throughout the US and Canada. 

The plume moth Platyptilia percnodactyla is reported to use this plant as a larval host, but it is known to be poisonous to mammals. It is, however, an attractive nectar source for many pollinators.

Helenium autumnale

The common name comes from the practice of making a snuff from this plant, and the resulting sneezes were supposed to expel evil spirits. The genus name was given by Carl Linnaeus in honor of Helen of Troy. The legend goes that these flowers rose up where her tears fell. 

Large-flowered Sneezeweed

Helenium autumnale | Large-flowered Sneezeweed | Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest



Size- 1-4’ tall

Habitat- Damp ground

Range- Primarily along the Snake and Columbia Rivers in our region. Native

Blooms- Late summer and early fall

Helenium autumnale

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