Sneezeweed

Helenium

Sneezeweed


Sneezeweeds are rather coarse annual or perennial herbs found commonly in low wet meadows, along stream banks, or on mountain slopes below 10,000 feet elevation throughout North America. A few species are cultivated in gardens and grow up to six feet tall. The alternate, nearly smooth leaves are usually lance-shaped but some are as thin as grass. Daisy-like ray flowers in shades of yellow, orange, red or copper, surround the centre cone-shaped or flat-topped disk flowers of brownish tones. The poisonous substance, dugaldin, is similar in action to aconitine of monkshood, and is present in all species of sneezeweed, and extends to all parts of the plant.

Sneezeweeds are among the most dangerous plants in this country to range stock and are unsafe for human consumption. The poisoning causes vomiting, weakness, trembling, rapid and irregular heart and pulse beat, laboured breathing, spasms, convulsions, and fatality.