Annuals or perennials, 10–160 cm. Stems 1(–10), erect, simple or branched distally (usually ± winged by decurrent leaf bases), glabrous or sparsely to densely hairy. Leaves usually mostly cauline; mostly alternate (proximal sometimes opposite); petiolate or sessile; blades mostly elliptic, lanceolate, linear, oblanceolate, oblong, ovate, or spatulate, often pinnately lobed or pinnatifid, ultimate margins entire or toothed, faces glabrous or sparsely to densely hairy, gland-dotted. Heads radiate or discoid, borne singly or (2–300+) in paniculiform to corymbiform arrays. Involucres ± globose, hemispheric, obconic, or ovoid, 4–34 mm diam. Phyllaries persistent, 9–34(–40+) in (1–)2[–3] series (distinct or proximally connate, usually reflexed in fruit, glabrous or sparsely to densely hairy, gland-dotted). Receptacles conic, ± globose, hemispheric, or ovoid, pitted (glabrous), epaleate (rarely bearing setiform enations). Ray florets 0 or 7–34, pistillate and fertile or neuter; corollas yellow, yellow with purple streaks, reddish brown to red proximally and yellow distally, or reddish brown to red or purple throughout. Disc florets 75–1000+, bisexual, fertile; corollas yellow, purple, or yellow to yellow-green proximally and yellow-brown, brown or reddish brown to purple distally, tubes shorter than throats, lobes 4 or 5, ± deltate (style-branch apices penicillate or truncate). Cypselae mostly obpyramidal, 4–5-angled, glabrous or sparsely to densely hairy; pappi persistent, of 5–12 entire or ± lacerate, sometimes aristate scales. x = 17.


North America, Mexico, West Indies (Cuba), Central America, South America.


Species ca. 32 (18 in the flora).

Helenium polyphyllum Small is apparently a hybrid between H. autumnale and H. flexuosum.


1 Stems not winged Helenium amarum
1 Stems ± winged (by decurrent leaf bases) > 2
2 Ray florets usually 8–34, neuter (if rays 0, perennials from e or se United States) > 3
2 Ray florets usually 7–30, pistillate, fertile (if rays 0, plants either perennials from w United States or annuals) > 8
3 Heads 1(–3); disc corollas mostly yellow, sometimes yellow-brown distally > 4
3 Heads 1–80+; disc corollas usually purple, sometimes red-brown or yellow-brown distally or throughout > 6
4 Pappus scales deeply lacerate; e Texas, sw Louisiana Helenium drummondii
4 Pappus scales entire or slightly lacerate (never deeply lacerate); se Louisiana, s Mississippi, s Alabama, s Georgia, se South Carolina, s North Carolina, Florida > 5
5 Leaves of basal rosettes usually pinnatifid; peduncles hairy; cypselae hairy Helenium pinnatifidum
5 Leaves of basal rosettes usually entire; peduncles usually glabrous, sometimes sparsely hairy; cypselae glabrous Helenium vernale
6 Heads (1–)5–50(–80); pappi of aristate scales Helenium flexuosum
6 Heads 1–20; pappi of non-aristate scales > 7
7 Stems densely hairy proximally; leaves moderately to densely hairy; pappi 0.3–0.5 mm; nc Arkansas Helenium campestre
7 Stems glabrous proximally; leaves glabrous or sparsely hairy; pappi 1–1.7 mm; se United States Helenium brevifolium
8 Perennials > 9
8 Annuals > 13
9 Stems unbranched or sparingly branched distally > 10
9 Stems strongly branched distally > 11
10 Peduncles usually densely hairy; pappi (2.5–)3–4.5 mm Helenium bolanderi
10 Peduncles sparsely to moderately hairy; pappi 1.3–2.2(–2.7) mm Helenium bigelovii
11 Rays usually 13–15, sometimes 0, corollas 3.8–10 mm; disc corollas yello to reddish brown or purple distally, lobes 4(–5) Helenium puberulum
11 Rays 8–21, corollas 10–23 mm; disc corollas yellow to yellow-brown distally, lobes 5 > 12
12 Leaves: basal blades oblanceolate, obovate, or spatulate (withered by flowering), mid blades usually dentate, distal blades entire or dentate; United States and s Canada Helenium autumnale
12 Leaves: basal blades oblanceolate (usually present at flowering), mid blades usually entire, sometimes dentate; swampy meadows, Missouri, Virginia Helenium virginicum
13 Pappi of aristate scales > 14
13 Pappi of non-aristate scales > 16
14 Disc corolla lobes 4(–5); California Helenium puberulum
14 Disc corolla lobes 5; Arizona, Texas > 15
15 Stems weakly winged (leaf bases scarcely decurrent from node to node); cypselae 2–2.9 mm; n Arizona Helenium arizonicum
15 Stems narrowly winged (leaf bases decurrent from node to node); cypselae 1–1.2 mm; s Texas Helenium linifolium
16 Involucres globoid and distal leaves entire Helenium elegans
16 Involucres usually ovoid to obconic (if globoid, distal leaves serrate to undulate-serrate) > 17
17 Distal leaves serrate to undulate-serrate; disc corolla lobes (4–)5 Helenium microcephalum
17 Distal leaves entire; disc corolla lobes 4 > 18
18 Rays 10–15 Helenium quadridentatum
18 Rays 0 Helenium thurberi
... more about "Helenium"
Mark W. Bierner +
Linnaeus +
Sneezeweed +
North America +, Mexico +, West Indies (Cuba) +, Central America +  and South America. +
For Helen of Troy +
Sp. Pl. +  and Gen. Pl. ed. +
1753 +  and 1754 +
bierner1972a +, bierner1989a +  and rock1957a +
Compositae +
Helenium +
Asteraceae (tribe Heliantheae) subtribe Gaillardiinae +