Helen of Troy in Autumn


common sneezeweed
Helenium autumnale


With three naturally occurring varieties, there’s a common sneezeweed found almost everywhere in the continental US and Canada, except the extreme northwest and northeast.  This herbaceous perennial can get up to five feet tall, and likes full sun and plenty of moisture – not surprisingly, this is another plant I found growing along the banks and on the rock outcrops in the lower Potomac Gorge.


Nineteen other native species of Helenium grow in the US.  Common sneezeweed and purple-headed sneezeweed are the only ones known in the Gorge.

Apparently the dried, ground leaves and flowers were once used for snuff, hence “sneezeweed”.