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Common sneezeweed is a perennial plant in the daisy or aster family (Asteraceae). Its abundant yellow blooms can be found in late summer to fall, often attracting bees and butterflies. Common sneezeweed can be found in much of the United States, in moist to wet openings, edges, shores, and thickets.
Sneezeweed can be cultivated in average to rich soils, needing moist to wet conditions and full sun. The plants often become so tall they need staking or other support. Alternatively, they can be cut back in early summer (that is, late June or early July) to force shorter, more-branched flowering heads. Flowering clumps can be divided every few years to maintain vigor and provide new plant starts for other areas. Seeds can be collected for starting new plants as well, although germination rates can be quite low.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.
Common sneezeweed leaves, flowers, and seeds are poisonous to humans, if eaten in large quantities, causing gastric and intestinal irritation, which can become fatal. The plants also contain sesquiterpene lactones, which may cause a skin rash in some people. The chemicals in sneezeweed can poison livestock, particularly sheep. The sesquiterpene lactone helenalin found in sneezeweed also has been found to be poisonous to fish and dogs. It is a crystalline substance with the chemical formula C.sneezeweed, any of about 40 species of tall herbs constituting the genus Helenium of the family Asteraceae, native to North America. Most are perennials with flat-topped clusters of yellow, brown, or red flower heads and leaves that alternate along the stem. Summer- or fall-blooming species are cultivated as border plants. The disk flowers are darker than the ray flowers, which may be turned back. (Source: www.britannica.com)