Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fall sneezeweed

with 12 comments

Helenium autumnale, known as fall sneezeweed, is a wildflower I seldom come across. In fact it has appeared in these posts only once, way back in 2011. I found this happily blooming clump in Bull Creek on September 7th. You may recognize the species as a genus-mate of the yellow bitterweed you saw here last week.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 18, 2018 at 5:33 PM

12 Responses

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  1. Very pretty flowers, Steve, but considering their name they sound like they pack a punch. 🤧

    Jane Lurie

    October 18, 2018 at 7:19 PM

    • I’ve been respiratorily susceptible to a lot of things in my life, but I’m happy to say that no sneezeweed has ever triggered a reaction in me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 18, 2018 at 9:38 PM

  2. It’s a nice cheerful-looking plant, despite the name. When I looked it up on the USDA site, it said the name used by the Menominee (a tribe that lived in the Milwaukee area) meant “sneezing spasmodically”. I’ve seen snuffboxes in museums, but I’ve never seen anyone take snuff. It seems like a bizarre but harmless habit, and who knows, maybe actually preferable to taking decongestants, etc.

    Robert Parker

    October 18, 2018 at 7:41 PM

    • Cheerful, definitely; sneezy, not in my (limited) experience. From what you say about the Menominee, and from the common name in English, the plant must have that effect, at least on some people, or maybe prepared in a certain way. As for snuff, here’s what I found:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snuff_(tobacco)

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 18, 2018 at 9:53 PM

      • Some allergies work that way. They affect some people more than others. I know that poison oak is rather selective that way.

        tonytomeo

        October 18, 2018 at 11:52 PM

        • From what I’ve read, some people are immune to the effects of poison ivy (and similarly, I presume, to poison oak). I’ve never had a poison ivy rash, so perhaps I’m among the small group of immune people. That said, I never push my luck, and try to keep a respectful distance.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 19, 2018 at 7:20 AM

  3. I am always happy to meet a pretty flower which doesn’t cause sneezing. Interesting to note that the leaves were used for a type of snuff.

    Gallivanta

    October 19, 2018 at 3:34 AM

    • I’m also always happy to meet a pretty flower which doesn’t cause sneezing, given my respiratory sensitivity to so many things in nature. Fortunately the flowers shown here caused me no harm and I was able to snuff out any worries about sneezing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 19, 2018 at 7:34 AM

  4. This was one of the first non-sunflower sunny flowers I learned to identify, because of those pretty yellow centers and the distinctive rays. Your photo captures its tendency to clump very nicely, and I especially like the way the colors of the grasses surrounding the sneezeweed serve as a complement. When I looked at the USDA map, it was easy to see why I thought it was so common; it’s listed for Kerr and Gillespie counties, which is precisely where I was introduced to it.

    shoreacres

    October 20, 2018 at 8:58 AM

    • I think you must know this species a lot better than I do, given what you say about its presence in Kerr and Gillespie Counties and your visits there.

      I also like the complementary color of the grasses but I don’t know if the grass is native. As you know, I try to exclude non-natives from my pictures, though I don’t always succeed. I’m reminded that when I was outside a museum in Maine this past June and told a gardener working there that I photograph only native species, she looked at me like I was crazy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2018 at 9:10 AM

  5. I giggled when I read the nickname for this plant: sneezeweed. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this plant before.

    WanderingCanadians

    October 22, 2018 at 8:48 AM


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