yellow crownbeard (Verbesina occidentalis)
Actinomeris alata Nutt.
Coreopsis alata Cav.
Coreopsis alata Pursh
Phaethusa occidentalis (L.) Britt.
Sigesbeckia occidentalis L
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of yellow crown-
beard is Verbesina occidentalis (L.) Walter. Verbesina occidentalis is
frequently confused with the more common Verbesina alternifolia,
which occurs in similar habitats and blooms at the same period, or slight-
ly earlier, as the rarer species. Most keys separating these species empha-
size that Verbesina alternifolia has alternative leaves, while Verbesian
occidentalis has opposite leaves. However, this leaf character is not
reliable, particularly in the autumn when Verbesina alternifolia produces
atypical shoots with opposite to subopposite leaves. The best characters
separating these 2 species are the achenes and the involucral bracts. These
require careful examination. Verbesina occidentalis also may superficial-
ly resemble other yellow-flowered composites, such as ox-eye (Heliopsis
helianthoides) or sunflowers (Helianthus spp.). However, these can be
easily distinguished from each other by close examination of flower
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: Yellow crownbeard is a perennial that may reach as much as 13
feet in height with showy yellow flowers and conspicuous 'wings' that run
along the length of the stem. Stems are erect, usually unbranced but occa-
sionally branching, ranging from 6 1/2 to 10 feet in height. Stems are us-
ually without hairs but occasionally have small hairs. Several 'wings' run
the length of the entire stem. Stems usually persist throughout the winter,
which is more than likely where this weed gets one of its common names.
Leaves: Leaves are lanceolate to ovate in outline, approximately 3 to 8
inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide. Leaves are without hairs (glabrous),
taper to the apex and have a toothed, or serrated, margin. Leaves are ar-
ranged oppositely along the stem, unlike in wingstem.
Flowers: Many flowers occur in clusters at the ends of the erect stems.
Each flower consists of outer ray flowers and inner disc flowers, all of
which are bright yellow in color. Ray flowers are approximately 1/2 to
3/4 inches long, 4 to 7 mm wide.
Fruit/Seeds: The fruit is a brown to black nutlet.
Roots: The roots have a large perennial basal crown from which many
new plants may arise.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Yellow crownbeard propogates itself
HABITAT TYPES: Yellow crownbeard is primarily a weed of open
to semi-open situations, often in disturbed areas: open woods, woods
borders, thickets, clearings, pastures, fields, roadsides, and waste ground,
pastures, hay fields, fencerows, roadsides, and rights-of-way. It is strong-
ly associated with disturbed areas and can spread dramatically in situations
where mowing spreads seeds.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Yellow crownbeard prefers consistently
moist soil and full sun. Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 3,583 feet.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Flowering is generally from August
into October, while fruiting occurs about a month later, September into
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Yellow crownbeard is primarily found
in the mid-Atlantic and deep southern states, but not in New England. It
extends as far west as Texas and Oklahoma, but in general does not go
much farther west of the Ohio Valley region.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies
Crooked Run Valley