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This native perennial plant is 3-8' tall and unbranched. The central stem is usually winged, with scattered white hairs between the ridges. The alternate leaves are up to 10" long and 2½" across. They are lanceolate to narrowly ovate and rather coarse-looking, with a rough texture. The margin of each leaf is smooth or slightly serrated, and there are white hairs along the major veins on the underside. At the apex of the plant are numerous daisy-like composite flowers with a ragged appearance. Each flower is about 1-2" across, and has 2-10 yellow ray florets that droop downward. The greenish yellow disk florets are prominent and numerous, projecting outward from the center like a pincushion with thick needles. The blooming period occurs from late summer to early fall, and lasts about 1-1½ months. Sometimes the flowers have a mild fragrance. The achenes are broad, flat, and winged, each with two slender awns; they are distributed to some extent by the wind. The root system produces long rhizomes, often causing the formation of vegetative colonies.
In moist woods along the path in an urban park.
Sometimes this plant is called 'Yellow Ironweed' because of its fancied resemblance to Ironweed (Vernonia spp.). Both kinds of plants bloom at about the same time of year, share a similar height, have similar leaves, and like moist conditions. Their composite flowers, however, are dramatically different from each other in appearance. Also, Wingstem usually has a winged central stem, while Ironweed doesn't.
Spotted on Oct 18, 2013
Submitted on Oct 29, 2013