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Purple-headed Sneezeweed  Fringediennial Gaura


Common Name: Purple-headed Sneezeweed

Latin Name: Helenium flexuosum

[Pronounced: "hell-EEN-ee-um flex-yoo-OH-sum")

Type of Plant: Prairie forb ("wildflower")

Identification Helps: Purple Sneezeweed has drooping yellow "petals" that have three lobes along the bottom. The seedheads are purplish-brown. Easy to identify, as shown in the photo. A similar, more common species, Helenium autumnale, Commmon Sneezeweed, has a yellow seedhead.

Preferred Growing Conditions in the Wild: Purple Sneezeweed grows in moist prairie soils (and in marsh and other wetland areas). It requires full sunlight. It is found in wet prairie habitats in Ohio.

Preferred Soils: The species grows in moderately to continually wet soils.

Seasons of Growth and Bloom: Flowers appear from August all the way into October.

Natural Distribution in Ohio: Purple-headed Sneezeweed is an uncommon or absent species in most Ohio prairies. It is absent from much of the western half of the state, with populations in the Oak Openings and in extreme southwest Ohio. It is more common but scattered in the Appalachian Plateau regions of the eastern half of the state.

Description and General Information: Purple-headed Sneezeweed, like it closely-related species, common Sneezeweed, Helenium autumnale, does not cause sneezing or hay fever. The flowers merely happen to bloom in late summer, when general pollen counts are high.

The species is not restricted to only wet prairies. It is also found on wetland sites, but always in the open. It cannot tolerate shade conditions.