Yellow Crownbeard

Photo of yellow crownbeard flowerhead.
Scientific Name
Verbesina helianthoides
Asteraceae (daisies, sunflowers)

Yellow crownbeard is a tall perennial with hairy, winged stems. Flowerheads are few (1–10 per stem), yellow, with 8–15 rays spreading horizontally and varying in length. Blooms May–October. The leaves are coarsely hairy on the upper surface, ovate-lanceolate, 2½–6 inches long, alternate, with widely spaced, small teeth.

Similar species: There are 3 other species of Verbesina in Missouri. One is white crownbeard (V. virginica), with white flowers. The other two are golden crownbeard (V. encelioides), which is uncommon and has leaves with well-defined stems, and yellow ironweed (V. alternifolia), which has 8–100 flowerheads per stem; also, its ray florets typically point downward, and tubular disc florets are relative long. Yellow crownbeard is the shortest of the four.

Common Name Synonyms
Height: 20 inches to nearly 4 feet (sometimes shorter).
Where To Find
image of Yellow Crownbeard Wingstem Distribution Map
Scattered south of Missouri River and northeast into Linn, Macon, and Ralls counties.
Occurs in upland prairies, savannas, glades, and upland forests, and along railroads and roadsides. Look for it in open and rocky areas.
Photographers admire Verbesina species because they can form spectacular, photogenic formations called frost flowers in early fall. A sudden overnight hard freeze ruptures the stem, and sap oozes out and freezes into intricate, petal-like shapes, which melt like frost in the morning sun.
Mammals and several birds, including quail and songbirds, eat the seeds. Flowers that bloom late in the season provide nectar for butterflies and other insects.
Media Gallery
Similar Species
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!