PURPLE-HEADED SNEEZEWEED
File Size: 48 KB
 
Helenium flexuosum  Raf.
Cherokee County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 1-4 feet
Family: Asteraceae - Sunflower Family
Flowering Period:   June, July, August, September
Also Called: Southern sneezeweed.
Stems: Erect or ascending, usually 1, simple below, much branched above, glabrous or finely soft-hairy, prominently winged.
Leaves: Alternate; basal leaves narrowly oblanceolate to spatulate or obovate, to 8 inches long, entire or toothed, usually absent or withered at flowering; stem leaves sessile, linear-lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate, 1.2 to 4.8 inches long, .2 to .8 inches wide, glabrous or sparsely to moderately short-hairy, glandular dotted; margins entire or toothed; bases with conspicuous narrow wings extending down stem.
Inflorescences: Heads, 1-80, in open cluster, corymb-like or panicle-like, terminal, on stalks 1.2 to 4 inches long; bracts 15-21, lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, moderately to densely hairy, arranged in whorls; disk spherical or usually broadly egg-shaped, 1/5 to 3/5 inch across.
Flowers: Ray florets sterile, usually 8-13, occasionally absent, often turned downward; ligule 1/5 to 4/5 inch long, yellow, base sometimes purplish, tip 3-lobed; disk florets fertile, 250-700; corollas 1/10 to 1/6 inch long, 4-lobed, purple or brownish-purple.
Fruits: Achene, tiny, wedge-shaped, brown, ribs white-hairy, tipped by 5-6 pointed scales with awn-like tips, enclosing small seed.
Habitat: Moist open, disturbed areas, ditches, old fields, washes, stream banks pastures, roadsides.
Distribution: Extreme southest Kansas.
Origin: Native
Toxicity: Toxic to cattle and sheep but is rarely eaten due to poor palatability. Can be problematic when alternate forage is unavailable. The toxic effects are cumulative. Other species of Helenium tend to be more of a problem for sheep.
Uses: Native Americans steeped the leaves and used the tea as a laxative. At one time, sneezeweed was used to treat colds and congestion. The dried powdered leaves and flowers were used to induce sneezing.

Purple-headed sneezeweed disk florets
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Cherokee County, Kansas
Purple-headed sneezeweed
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Cherokee County, Kansas
Purple-headed sneezeweed ray and disk florets
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Cherokee County, Kansas
Purple-headed sneezeweed stem
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Cherokee County, Kansas
Purple-headed sneezeweed leaves
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Cherokee County, Kansas
Purple-headed sneezeweed
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Cherokee County, Kansas
Purple-headed sneezeweed
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Cherokee County, Kansas
Purple-headed sneezeweed inflorescence
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Cherokee County, Kansas
Purple-headed sneezeweed stem
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Cherokee County, Kansas
Purple-headed sneezeweed
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Wah Sha She Prairie, Barton County, Missouri