• Helenium autumnale - Common Sneezeweed


    "Common sneezeweed can be found throughout the United States in moist soils along streams, ponds, in swamps, and wetlands. Sneezeweed can be cultivated in average to rich soils, needing moist to wet conditions. It should be cut back in early summer to encourage branching and increase flowers. Cultivars are much showier than the weedy native sneezeweed.

    "The common name of Sneezeweed is based on historic use of the crushed dried leaves and heads to make a form of snuff that caused sneezing.

    "Common sneezeweed leaves, flowers, and seeds are poisonous to humans if eaten in large quantities, causing gastric and intestinal irritation, which can become fatal.  The chemicals in sneezeweed can poison livestock, particularly sheep and cattle..." (North Carolina Extension)

    Helenium Autumnale Botany by Dr. John Hilty

    Aster family (Asteraceae)


    "The preference is full to partial sun, wet to moist conditions, and soil containing loam or silt that is relatively high in organic material. Common Sneezeweed can appear sloppy and unkempt, particularly if it is allowed to dry out." (Hilty) 

    Faunal Associations: 

    "Probably the most common visitors to the flowers are long-tongued bees, including honeybees, bumblebees, long-horned bees (Melissodes spp.), cuckoo bees (Coelioxys spp., Triepeolus spp.), and leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.). Other visitors include Halictid bees, Sphecid wasps, Vespid wasps, Syrphid flies, butterflies, and beetles. Most of these insects suck nectar, although some bees also collect pollen and some beetles feed on the pollen. The aphids Aphis vernoniae and Uroleucon tardae suck plant juices from Common Sneezeweed, while the caterpillars of Papaipema rigida (Rigid Sunflower Borer Moth) bore through its stems and feed on the pith. Mammalian herbivores usually don't feed on this plant because its foliage is toxic and bitter. There have been reports of severe poisoning for livestock that have consumed this plant, producing such symptoms as congestion of the kidneys and liver, formation of necrotic areas in the lungs, and irritation of the digestive tract. Not surprisingly, Common Sneezeweed is considered an 'increaser' in grazed meadows." (Hilty)


    1. "Helenium autumnale" By Aaron Carlson from Menomonie, WI, USA - Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)Uploaded by uleli, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31227031
    2. "Helenium autumnale - Sneezeweed 3" by FritzFlohrReynolds is licensed under CC BY 2.0
    3. CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5854

    North Carolina Extension plant description: Helenium Autumnale (Autumn Sneezeweed, Bitterweed, Common Sneezeweed, Dogtooth-Daisy, Fall Sneezeweed, False Sunflower, Helen’s Flower, Sneezeweed) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/helenium-autumnale/. Accessed 2 Feb. 2022.

    John Hilty botany, cultivation, and faunal associations: John Hilty, "Common Sneezeweed", Illinois Wildflowers, the publisher, Copyright 2004-2019. Accessed 2 February 2022

    Botanical Illustration: "Helenium autumnale L. Curtis's botanical magazine s.2 v.4 (1830)" by Swallowtail Garden Seeds is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Information and images compiled by Erik N. Vegeto

    Disclaimer Notice: Creative Commons will not be liable to You or any party on any legal theory for any damages whatsoever, including without limitation any general, special, incidental or consequential damages arising in connection to this license