South Dakota Native Plant Research
Asteraceae : Helenium autumnale

Asteraceae : Helenium autumnale


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Common Name



Helenium autumnale is a perennial herb with erect stems growing from 30 to 130 cm tall, often branched above. The simple alternate leaves are narrowed at the base and wrapping the stem, the blades lance-linear to almost ovate 4-15 cm long and up to 4 cm wide. The inflorescence is a cluster of heads in an open leafy cluster at the top of the plant. Each head is 1-2 cm in diameter with an involucre of 1- 2 rows of narrow bracts that bend downward. There are 10-20 ray yellow flowers surrounding a cluster of many yellow disk flowers on a domed receptacle. The fruit are achenes about 1.5 mm long with a scaley pappus. In August through October, one plant can produce as many as 100 yellow flower heads. Sneezeweed can be found on moist open slopes in South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Sneezeweed is misnamed, its flowers are insect pollenated and do not cause sneezing or other allergic reactions. The flowers are highly esteemed by gardeners and command the attention of insects as well. The numerous large yellow flowers of Helenium autumnale provide a profusion of color in late summer and autumn, when many other blossoms have disappeared.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seed in Sept.-Oct from brown seedheads.
Germination: Spring or fall sowing will work as seeds have little dormancy. They need light to germinate so need to be just pressed into the soil. Drying of seeds and seedlings is a problem. Vegetative Propagation: Division in the spring or fall
Soils: Sandy, loam, or clay. Light: Full sun
Water: Prefers moist conditions.

Asteraceae : Helenium autumnale