Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This is an attractive plant because of the fuzzy leaves; the composite flowers are an additional bonus. Yellow Crownbeard, along with other members of the genus, has been oddly neglected in many prairie field guides, even though it clearly occurs in tallgrass prairies. Nor is it easy to obtain seed or plants from nursuries that specialize in native wildflowers, possibly because of the more southern distribution of this species. The only other member of this genus that occurs in prairies in Illinois, Verbesina alternifolia (Wingstem), is a taller plant that blooms later. It has long coarse leaves that are sandpapery, rather than soft and fuzzy, and its ray florets droop around the central cone of each flower. Return
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Description

This native perennial plant is unbranched and about 3-4' tall. The central stem is winged, with a slight scattering of small white hairs on the ridges. The alternate leaves are about 5" long and 2" wide, lanceolate to ovate in shape, rather soft in texture, and covered with small white hairs. This gives the leaves a fuzzy light green appearance, especially on their undersides. The inflorescence at the apex of the plant has several daisy-like composite flowers on rather short pedicels with abundant long white hairs. These composite flowers are bright yellow, about 2–2½" across, and become rather ragged in appearance after they pass their prime. Each flower has 6-12 ray florets, which spread outward horizontally from the central cone (roughly), rather than drooping. The disk florets present a pincushion-like appearance, with each disk floret projecting outward and visibly separated from the others. The blooming period is early to mid-summer, and lasts about a month. There is no noticeable scent to the flowers. This plant often forms colonies from its rhizomes.
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Yellow Crownbeard occurs occasionally in the southern 3/5 of Illinois, from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana, and southward. It is apparently absent elsewhere (see Distribution Map). It occurs in mesic black soil prairies, rocky upland forests, savannas, thickets, limestone glades, and along railroads. It is especially likely to be observed along railroad prairies.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants 60–120+ cm (perennating bases ± erect or horizontal rhizomes, internodes winged). Leaves all or mostly alternate (proximal sometimes opposite); blades ± lance-ovate to lanceolate, 5–12+ × 2–5+ cm, bases ± cuneate, margins ± toothed, apices acute to attenuate, faces strigose to sericeous. Heads 2–5(–10+) in ± corymbiform arrays. Involucres ± hemispheric, 10–15+ mm diam. Phyllaries 16–21+ in 2–3 series, ± erect, lanceolate, 6–9+ mm. Ray florets 8–13+; laminae 20–25(–30+) mm. Disc florets 40–80+; corollas yellow. Cypselae dark brown to black, oblanceolate to elliptic, 5 mm, faces strigillose to glabrate; pappi 0.5–1.5 mm. 2n = 34.
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Type Information

Type collection for Verbesina helianthoides Hook. & Arn. in Hook.
Catalog Number: US 1803332
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. Tweedie
Locality: Entre Ríos, Argentina, South America
  • Type collection: Hooker, W. J. & Arnott, G. A. 1841. J. Bot. 3: 316.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Yellow Crownbeard occurs occasionally in the southern 3/5 of Illinois, from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana, and southward. It is apparently absent elsewhere (see Distribution Map). It occurs in mesic black soil prairies, rocky upland forests, savannas, thickets, limestone glades, and along railroads. It is especially likely to be observed along railroad prairies.
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Associations

Faunal Associations

Primarily long-tongued bees visit the flowers for pollen or nectar. These include bumblebees, honeybees, large Leaf-Cutting bees, Little Carpenter bees, and various Cuckoo bees. Other visitors include Halictine bees, Dagger bees, and Thread-Waisted wasps. The caterpillars of the butterfly Chlosyne nycteis (Silvery Checkerspot) and Basilodes pepita (Gold Moth) feed on the foliage.
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Flower-Visiting Insects of Yellow Crownbeard in Illinois

Verbesina helianthoides (Yellow Crownbeard)
(Bees collect pollen or suck nectar, most flies suck nectar, otherwise they feed on pollen & are non-pollinating; other insects suck nectar; observations are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus sn, Bombus pensylvanica sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn fq; Anthophoridae (Epeolini): Epeolus bifasciatus sn; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Svastra obliqua obliqua sn, Synhalonia speciosa sn; Megachilidae (Coelioxini): Coelioxys alternata alternata sn, Coelioxys octodentata sn, Coelioxys rufitarsis rufitarsis sn; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn cp fq, Megachile latimanus sn, Megachile mendica sn cp, Megachile montivaga sn, Megachile parallela parallela sn, Megachile petulans sn cp, Megachile policaris sn, Megachile pugnatus sn cp fq; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Ashmeadiella bucconis sn cp, Hoplitis cylindricus sn; Megachilidae (Trypetini): Heriades leavitti sn cp

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon virescens sn, Augochlora purus purus sn, Augochlorella aurata sn cp, Halictus ligatus sn cp, Halictus rubicunda sn cp, Lasioglossum cinctipes sn, Lasioglossum coriaceus sn, Lasioglossum imitatus cp np, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn cp, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes eulophi sn cp; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena rudbeckiae sn; Andrenidae (Panurginae): Calliopsis andreniformis sn cp, Heterosarus albitarsis sn cp

Wasps
Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Glenostictia pictifrons sn; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila nigricans sn fq, Ammophila pictipennis sn, Ammophia procera sn fq

Flies
Syrphidae: Eristalis transversus sn, Toxomerus marginatus fp np; Bombyliidae: Rhynchanthrax parvicornis sn, Systoechus vulgaris sn

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Phyciodes tharos sn

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Erynnis juvenalis sn

Moths
Ctenuchidae: Cisseps fulvicollis sn

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full to partial sun, and mesic conditions. During a drought this plant sometimes wilts, but recovers readily after significant rainfall. This plant often flourishes in soil that is loamy, and will tolerate some clay or stones. The foliage is rarely bothered by disease.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Notes

Comments

Verbesina helianthoides may be no longer present in Georgia.
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