Wingstem,  Verbesina alternifolia (formerly Actinomeris alternifolia)
Asteraceae or Sunflower Family

Very tall herb, 3-10 feet tall.  Stem winged, that is, it has thin ridges running down the stem as in the picture below center.  Leaves wide lance-shaped or oblong.  Leafstalks also winged.  Most leaves alternate, but lowest ones may be opposite each other.  Flower heads in a large branching cluster.  Each flower head with about 10 or fewer yellow, drooping ray flowers around a nearly spherical, untidy button of greenish yellow disc flowers.  Blooms in late summer. Fruits are flattened black seeds with protruding horns in a fuzzy white pincushion. Seeds and cushion turn brown and persist into the winter.. 

Native plant of open areas, especially favoring floodplains.  Very common in Wildwood, especially in the floodplain of Connelly's Run, but also along Wildwood Drive.

No other member of this family in Wildwood has the untidy looking flowers and winged stems of wingstem, except its sister species yellow crownbeard (V. occidentalis). Crownbeard,, however, has leaves that are all opposite each other, and the ray flowers tend to spread rather than droop.

More Information


Wings on stem

Fruits close up
Old fruits in winter

Flora & Fauna Home

Wildwood Home