Yellow Crownbeard (Wingstem)

Verbesina helianthoides

yellow_crownbeard_flower_7-16-14.jpg

Photo of yellow crownbeard flowerhead.
Yellow crownbeard blooms May–October. The flowerheads are few (1–10 per stem), yellow, with 8–15 rays spreading horizontally.
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org
Family

Asteraceae (daisies, sunflowers)

Description

Perennial with hairy, winged stems. Flowerheads few (1–10 per stem), yellow, with 8–15 rays spreading horizontally and varying in length. Blooms May–October. Leaves coarsely hairy on the upper surface, ovate-lanceolate, 2½–6 inches long, alternate, with widely spaced, small teeth.

Similar species: There are 3 other species of Verbesina in Missouri. One is white crownbeard (V. virginica), with white flowers. The other two are golden crownbeard (V. encelioides), which is uncommon and has leaves with well-defined stems, and yellow ironweed (V. alternifolia), which has 8–100 flowerheads per stem. Yellow crownbeard is the shortest of the four.

Size

Height: 20 inches to nearly 4 feet (sometimes shorter).

yellow_crownbeard_7-16-14.jpg

Photo of yellow crownbeard plant blooming in a field.
Yellow Crownbeard (Wingstem)
Yellow crownbeard occurs in upland prairies, savannas, glades, and upland forests, and along railroads and roadsides.
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in upland prairies, savannas, glades, and upland forests, and along railroads and roadsides. Look for it in open and rocky areas.

image of Yellow Crownbeard Wingstem Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Scattered south of Missouri River and northeast into Linn, Macon, and Ralls counties.

Human connections

Photographers admire Verbesina species because they can form spectacular, photogenic formations called frost flowers in early fall: A sudden overnight hard freeze ruptures the stem, and sap oozes out and freezes into intricate, petal-like shapes, which melt like frost in the morning sun.

Ecosystem connections

Mammals and several birds, including quail and songbirds, eat the seeds. Flowers that bloom late in the season provide nectar for butterflies and other insects.