Scouting out the Wingstems

wingstem close-up

In this week’s issue of the Sewanee Mountain Messenger, herbarium curator Yolande Gottfried described the three species of wingstem that we have in Sewanee — two yellow-flowered species and one white, all in the genus Verbesina in the Aster family. The name wingstem derives from the fact that the winged leaf stalks, or petioles, extend down the stem. As Yolande described, the white wingstem is often called Frostweed. Differentiation between the yellow-flowered species is made on the basis of leaf arrangement — the one pictured has opposite leaves (attached to the stem in pairs) and is called Yellow Crownbeard. Although I didn’t notice a disagreeable odor when leaning in to take these pictures of seven- to eight-foot high plants, Yellow Crownbeard’s scent has been likened to a cow pen, rotting meat, or a skunk! Wingstems have been used in salves and ointments applied to the skin.  wingstem full-length 

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