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Helenium autumnale (common sneezeweed)
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Helenium autumnale

common sneezeweed

Our local native with yellow or bronze single daisy-like flowers on stout branched stems in late summer. Petals have distinct tooth-like indentations; hence the common name, dog-toothed daisy. All sneezeweeds have three-lobed petals which distiguish them from Rudbeckia and other yellow coneflowers. Brown, rust colored fruit appear in fall. Great for cut flowers and the avid butterfly gardener.

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3-5 Feet


3 Feet


18 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 3-8

common sneezeweed Interesting Notes

Common sneezeweed is also known as Helen's flower, bitterweed, autumn sneezeweed, and false sunflower. The genus name, Helenium, refers to the famous Helen of Troy. There is a legend that these flowers sprang from the ground where Helen's tears fell. The species name, autumnale, refers to the season of the flower's blooming—autumn. Synonyms for the scientific name include Helenium canaliculatum, H. latifolium, and H. parviflorum.

According to a 1923 publication by H. Smith of the Milwaukee Public Museum, the name given to the plant by the Menominee Indians of the Wisconsin area is "aiatci'a ni'tcîkûn," which means "sneezing spasmodically". With its large showy flowers, insects pollinate common sneezeweed, not wind. Therefore, it does not have small pollen grains, like ragweed does, which cause sneezing and other hay fever symptoms. This is not the reason for the Menominee and English names for the plant. The common name is based on historic use of the crushed dried leaves and heads to make a form of snuff that caused sneezing. In certain cultures and times, sneezing was regarded as a desirable way to rid the body of evil spirits or a way to loosen up a head cold, so that a sneeze-producing remedy was desirable. - USDA Forest Service

Sneezeweed is a natural rabbit repellant.

Helenium autumnale Growing and Maintenance Tips

Easily grown in rich, moist soils in full sun. Tolerates periods of drought in the garden, but prefers even moisture in production. Fertilize sparingly to reduce risk of weak stems. Plants may benefit from being cut back in early spring to encourage more branching and floriferous growth and tidy habit in containers. Foliage should be cut back after flowering. Best used in borders, meadows and wild gardens.

Good Substitutions

sneezeweed Helenium autumnale Mariachi™ 'Salsa'
sneezeweed Helenium 'Mardi Gras'
purple-headed sneezeweed Helenium flexuosum 'Tiny Dancer'
swamp tickseed Coreopsis palustris 'Summer Sunshine'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Salt Tolerance
Salt Tolerance
Cut Flower
Cut Flower

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Summer
Green Infrastructure
Bioretention/Rain Garden
For Animals
Caution: Toxic
Native to North America
Propagation Type
Open pollinated