Wingstem, Verbesina alternifolia


Verbesina alternifolia

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Late Summer/Early Fall
Zones: 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Medium
Color: Yellow
Fragrance: No
Height: 4 to 8 feet
Spacing: 2 to 6 feet


Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) is a tall, weedy, clump-forming perennial that is native to woodland areas . It typically occurs in low open or rich woods, wood margins, meadows, thickets and in alluvial soils near streams, sloughs and ditches. Bright yellow, daisy-like flowers (1-2 inches diameter) with drooping rays bloom from August to October atop upright, stiff, hairy, winged stems growing 4-8 feet tall. Each flower typically features 2-8 narrow, reflexed, bright yellow rays with a slightly darker yellow center disk. Flowers sometimes appear rayless with only disk flowers, hence the common name of yellow ironweed. Sessile or short-stalked, toothed, lanceolate-elliptic leaves (4-12 inches long) are rough-textured above. Leaf tissue extends beyond the leaf base and down the stems of the plant, The blooming period occurs from late summer to early fall, lasting about 1-1½ months. The achenes are oval-shaped, flattened, and winged; each one has two short slender awns at its apex. They are distributed to some extent by the wind. The root system produces long rhizomes, often causing the formation of vegetative colonies.

Habitats include moist prairies, moist meadows near rivers and woodlands, woodland openings, woodland borders, floodplain forests, areas adjacent to woodland paths, thickets, savannas, partially shaded seeps, partially shaded areas along rivers, pastures, abandoned fields, and roadside ditches. This plant usually does not wander far from woodland areas or bodies of water.

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Thrives in consistently moist, organically rich soils, but also tolerates some dry conditions.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Easy to grow from seed.
  Seeds are attractive to birds.
  The lower leaves may fall off the plant during hot dry weather.
Further Information

Wild Ones of the Fox Valley Area
Prairie Nursery
Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries