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Helenium autumnale1.jpg
Helenium autumnale
Scientific classification

L. 1753 not Mill. 1754[2]
  • Oxylepis Benth.
  • Hecubaea DC.
  • Mesodetra Raf.
  • Grahamia Spreng.
  • Brassavola Adans.
  • Picradenia Hook.
  • Cephalophora Cav.
  • Graemia Hook.
  • Heleniastrum Heist. ex Fabr.
  • Actinea Juss.
  • Actinella Pers.
  • Leptophora Raf.
  • Leptopoda Nutt.
  • Tetrodus Cass.

Helenium is a genus of annuals and herbaceous perennials in the sunflower family native to the Americas.[3][4]

They bear yellow or orange daisy-like composite flowers. A number of these species (particularly Helenium autumnale) have the common name sneezeweed, based on the former use of their dried leaves in making snuff. It was inhaled to cause sneezing that would supposedly rid the body of evil spirits. Larger species may grow up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) tall.[5]

The genus is named for Helen of Troy, daughter of Zeus and Leda.[6][7]

Helenium species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Phymatopus behrensii.

Genus level properties: most conspicuously globe-like disk-shaped flowers, rays three-lobed at tip.




Helenium hybrid "Moerheim Beauty" [1].

Numerous cultivars have been developed for garden use - mainly from H. autumnale and H. bigelovii. They are useful for late summer and fall bloom, usually in less formal compositions, they are appropriate for native gardens in areas where they are indigenous, and they look wonderfully in bouquets. Annual species are easily grown from seed, and perennials should be divided every year in order to retain their vigor; the soil should be fertile with a generous amount of organic manner in the form of compost, manure or other decayed organic matter in addition to, perhaps, an application of a complete fertilizer in spring. Heleniums should be grown in full sun average to moist soil with good drainage, they are drought tolerant, but should be watered on planting and regularly until established. The following have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:-[10]

Helenium Hybrid has brilliant yellow petals surrounding spherical brown cones covered with golden pollen, it grows to 0.9 metres (3 ft) tall and takes up about 0.6 metres (2 ft) of space, the hardiness zone rating is 4-9. Its Flowers appear for six weeks from mid to late summer and attract butterflies in droves, it provides a splash of colour when many other perennials are starting to fade, it may accompany ornamental grasses, Phlox and Liatris.

The UK National Collection of Heleniums is located at Yew Tree House, Hall Lane, Hankelow. near Audlem in Cheshire.[23][24]


  1. ^ a b c Flann, C (ed) 2009+ Global Compositae Checklist
  2. ^ Tropicos, search for Helenium
  3. ^ Linnaeus, Carl von. 1753. Species Plantarum 2: 886 in Latin
  4. ^ Tropicos, Helenium L
  5. ^ Hughes-Jones 2012, p. 38
  6. ^ Flora of North America Vol. 21 Page 426 Sneezeweed Helenium Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 886. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 377. 1754.
  7. ^ Homer. Circa 760–710 BCE. Iliad.
  8. ^ Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution maps
  9. ^ Turner, B. L. 2013. The comps of Mexico. A systematic account of the family Asteraceae (chapter 11: tribe Helenieae). Phytologia Memoirs 16: 1–100
  10. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 43. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  11. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Baudirektor Linne'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  12. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Blütentisch'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  13. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Butterpat'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  14. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Feuersiegel'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  15. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Gartensonne'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  16. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Karneol'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  17. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  18. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Ring of Fire'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  19. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Rubinzwerg'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  20. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  21. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Waltraut'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  22. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Helenium 'Wesergold'". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  23. ^ Welcome to Chester & Cheshire, Helenium National Collection Weekend
  24. ^ Special Perennials, National Collections of Helenium and Centaurea, Hankelow, Cheshire, United Kingdom