common sneezeweed

(Helenium autumnale)

Conservation Status
common sneezeweed
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland


FACW - Facultative wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland


Common sneezeweed is a 24 to 60 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises usually in a single stem, sometimes on 2 to 7 stems, from a shallow, fibrous root system.

The stems are erect or ascending, winged, and branched above the middle. Above the middle the stems are moderately to densely covered with short, spreading to ascending, somewhat curled hairs. They are also moderately covered with yellow, stalkless or impressed glands. Below the middle the stem is sparsely to moderately hairy.

Stem leaves are alternate, stalkless, numerous, and spread outward. The leaves are longest at the middle of the stem, becoming slightly smaller as they ascend the stem. The upper and lower surfaces are sometimes hairless but are usually moderately to densely covered with short, mostly spreading, sometimes curved hairs. They are also densely dotted with yellow, stalkless or impressed glands. Middle and upper stem leaves are 1½ to 6 long, and 3 16 to 2 wide. Basal and lower leaves are somewhat smaller than middle stem leaves. Basal leaves are lance-shaped, inversely lance-shaped, or inversely egg-shaped, and are sometimes cut with shallow, rounded lobes (pinnatifid). Lower and middle stem leaves are inversely egg-shaped to inversely lance-shaped. They are tapered at the base and angled or taper to a sharp point at the tip. The base of the leaf blade continues down the stem as a narrow, green wing. The margins are either untoothed or are toothed often only above the middle of the blade. Upper stem leaves are inversely lance-shaped to lance-shaped but otherwise similar to middle stem leaves. Basal and lower stem leaves are absent or withered by flowering time.

The inflorescence is 2 to 25 flower heads in open, leafy, branched, panicle-like clusters at the end of the stems and branches. Each cluster is on a ¾ to 3 long, sparsely to moderately hairy stalk.

The whorl of 15 to 21 green bracts at the base of the flower head (involucre) is globe-shaped, 5 16 to long, and to in diameter. The bracts of the involucre (phyllaries) are in 2 series. The outer phyllaries are fused at the base.

Each flower head is 1 to 2½ in diameter. There are 8 to 21 ray florets and 200 to 400 or more disk florets. The ray florets are yellow, to 1 long, to wide, and double notched at the tip. They are narrow at the base and taper evenly to a broad tip. The disk florets are yellow and form a large, globe-shaped, sometimes somewhat flattened disk.

The fruit is a dry, one-seeded, 1 16 long seed capsule (cypsela) with a tuft of 5 to 7 short bristles (pappus) attached to the end.




24 to 60


Flower Color


Yellow ray florets, yellow disk florets


Similar Species


Purple-head sneezeweed (Helenium flexuosum) leaves are mostly erect. Disk florets are purple or brownish-purple. The plant has been recorded only in Carlton County.


Moist to wet. Forests, prairies, fens, marshes, river banks, streambanks, roadsides, railroads, disturbed sties. Full sun.




August to October


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Asterales (sunflowers, bellflowers, fanflowers, and allies)  


Asteraceae (sunflowers, daisies, asters, and allies)  
  Subfamily Asteroideae  
  Supertribe Helianthodae  
  Tribe Helenieae  
  Subtribe Gaillardiinae  
  Genus Helenium (sneezeweeds)  
  Section Helenium  

Subordinate Taxa


Several varieties of Helenium autumnale have been described. Three are recognized by USDA PLANTS. Of these, only the nominate variety, Helenium autumnale var. autumnale, occurs in Minnesota. Most sources either accept the varieties as questionable or do not accept them at all.




Helenium autumnale var. autumnale

Helenium autumnale var. canaliculatum

Helenium autumnale var. fylesii

Helenium autumnale var. grandiflorum

Helenium autumnale var. montanum

Helenium autumnale var. parviflorum

Helenium canaliculatum

Helenium latifolium

Helenium macranthum

Helenium montanum

Helenium parviflorum


Common Names


autumn sneezeweed


common sneezeweed

fall sneezeweed

smooth oxeye

mountain sneezeweed














A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed from the wall of the inferior ovary and also from other tissues derived from the receptacle or hypanthium, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



A whorl of bracts beneath or surrounding a flower or flower cluster.



A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.



An individual bract within the involucre of a plant in the Asteraceae family.



Deeply cut, more than half way to the midrib but not to the midrib, into lobes that are spaced out along the midrib; the lobes do not form separate leaflets.



A thin, flat, membranous, usually transparent appendage on the margin of a structure.

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Delighted to find bumblebee love this plant. Growing in shoreline buffer.

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Flower Head

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Winged Stem

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Other Videos
  Sneezeweed - Helenium autumnale

Published on Aug 24, 2012

Earthyman views Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) at Ion Exchange native seed and plant nursery in NE Iowa. Sneezeweed is a wetland wildflower




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