E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Helenium autumnale L.
mountain sneezeweed (common sneezeweed)
Asteraceae (Aster family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Paul Handford  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #68671)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Helenium autumnale
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Autumn sneezeweed is a showy, yellow-flowered perennial species in the Aster family. In BC, we recognize two varieties: var. grandiflorum and var. montanum. Var. montanum is the more common variety (found strictly west of the coast mountains), while grandiflorum is blue-listed in the province. However, Flora North America does not recognize the varieties and recognizes only one taxon in North America.

Lomer (2011) provides the following description of var. grandiflorum in his article on the rare plants of the Fraser Valley: "This is one of the relatively few native BC plants that has found a place in the horticultural trade. Var. grandiflorum is a larger variety with longer ray flowers and more numerous heads, in well-grown plants at least. It is difficult to tell from the common var. montanum which is a variety that grows on river shores along the Thompson and Fraser Rivers as well as several other places in southeast BC. Var. montanum also can be found as a native plant in riverbars of the upper Fraser Valley from Agassiz to Hope and rarely downriver as well, usually in sand dredgings. Var. grandiflorum can be told by its larger flower heads and rays, taller stature and more robust habit.

Var. grandiflorum can be found scattered along a 20 km stretch on both sides of the Pitt River from Douglas Island to Pitt Lake (UBC: Bradfield 92). It was discovered on Westham Island in 2008 and can be expected anywhere along the Fraser River on wet vegetated shores, east to about Hope. There are old collections from ditches in Langley; these sites may or may not have been destroyed. There is a large population in back of the Ruby Creek Rest Stop, Hwy 7, west of Hope." [Reprinted from Botanical Electronic News #435, with permission]

Species Information

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Perennial herb from a fibrous root; stems erect, solitary or few, sometimes branched at the base, branched above, minutely hairy with upwardly-curved hairs or nearly glabrous, 0.15-1.2 m tall.
Basal leaves soon deciduous; stem leaves alternate, numerous, glandular-dotted, usually wing-margined at the base, lanceolate, narrowing to an unstalked or almost unstalked base, shallowly toothed or nearly entire, 3-15 cm long, 5-40 mm wide.
Heads with ray and disk flowers, several to numerous, terminal; involucres 6-8 mm tall; involucral bracts narrow, soon deflexed; ray flowers 10-20, yellow, 3-lobed, 1-2.5 cm long, soon deflexed; disk flowers yellow.
Achenes angled, appressed stiff-hairy on the angles; pappus of egg-shaped or lanceolate, long-pointed scales, broadened at the base, about 1/2 the length of the disk flowers.
Two varieties occur in BC:

1. Ray flowers 1-1.5 cm long; plants 15-80 cm tall.................... var. montanum (Nutt.) Fern.

1. Ray flowers 1.5-2.5 cm long; plants 40-120 cm tall..................... var. grandiflorum (Nutt.) T.& G.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present over the Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic streambanks, meadows and forest openings in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; rare (var. grandiflorum) to frequent (var. montanum) in S BC; N to NT, E to PQ, and S to FL, TX, and AZ.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Helenium autumnale

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 360 360 360
Slope Gradient (%) 0 0 0
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
6 6 6
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: ICH(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References