An Illustrated Guide to ARIZONA WEEDS

The University of Arizona Press

WESTERN SNEEZEWEED, sneezeweed, orange sneezeweed



WESTERN SNEEZEWEED-Helenium hoopesli Gray

DESCRIPTION-Western sneezeweed is an herbaceous perennial with large leaves, from a woody taproot, reproducing only by seeds. There are 1 to several stems which are branched above, 1 1/2 to 3 feet high. The young plants are densely soft hairy, but nearly hairless in age. The alternate leaves are thick and stalkless with smooth margins. The ones at the base of the plant are larger, 5 to 15 inches long, rounded at the tip with tapering bases, while those on the stem are 3 to 10 inches long and usually pointed at the tip. The flower heads are 1 2/3 to 3 inches across, including the large bright orange-yellow marginal (ray) flowers or "petals." The central (disk) flowers are orange-brown. There are about 3 to 6 flower heads at the top of each stem. Each head produces many achenes, which are topshaped, about l/8 inch long, densely hairy, ribbed, and bear 5 to 8 thin, colorless membranous scales at the larger end.

DISTRIBUTION-This stout native range weed occurs in the higher mountain areas of eastern Arizona; in Apache, Coconino, Greenlee, Graham, Cochise, and Pima counties; at elevations ranging from 7,000 to 11,000 feet; flowering from June to September. It is found on the summer ranges on moist well-drained mountain meadows, and deep rich soils of coniferous forests.

POISONOUS PROPERTIES-Sneezeweed is poisonous to sheep, cattle, and horses. Most losses occur in sheep. It contains the poisonous glucoside, dugaldin. Although all parts of the plant are poisonous, the fresh plants are more poisonous than the dried ones. The poison is cumulative, and under normal range conditions the animal must feed on the plant about 10 to 20 days before it becomes sick. It causes what is commonly known as "spewing sickness," from the symptoms exhibited. Although this weed is not abundant enough in Arizona to be a serious problem (as in Colorado), some losses may occur in this state.

Copyright (c) 1972 The Arizona Board of Regents

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