Verbesina / Wingstem
Common Name: Wingstem
Verbesina species produce large, daisy-like flowers in summer that are attractive to a variety of native bees and butterflies. The plants are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species. These include Schinia bina, which has been recorded on Verbesina encelioides, and Schinia siren, which feeds exclusively on this Verbesina species.
Eastern, central and southwestern United States, including parts of southern California
Plants and seeds for the perennial species, Wingstem (V. alternifolia), are currently available in native plant nurseries and commercial seed sources for annual and biennial species are expanding. Growing conditions for Verbesina vary depending upon species, some preferring dry, sunny conditions, while others grow best in wet to average, partial shade.
Perennial, biennial, annual, depending upon species
Full sun, partial shade
Average to wet or dry, depending upon species
Verbesina alternifolia (wingstem) is a perennial species, native to eastern and central North America. Habitats include moist prairies, moist meadows near rivers and woodlands. It produces bright yellow, daisy-like flowers (1-2 inches diameter) with drooping rays bloom from August to October. They sit atop upright, stiff, hairy, winged stems growing 4-8 feet tall. The flowers are visited primarily by long-tongued bees, especially bumblebees. Some short-tongued bees, butterflies and skippers also visit the flowers. The seeds are attractive to birds. This plant is easily grown in average medium, well-drained soils, in full sun to partial shade. Wingstem thrives in consistently moist, organically rich soils, but also tolerates some dry conditions. It is available from local native plant nurseries and is easy to grow from seed.
Verbesina encelioides (golden crownbeard) is an annual species, native to eastern, midwestern and southwestern regions of the United States. This 3 foot tall plant, which produces 2 inch yellow flowers from May to October, is common on disturbed ground and sometimes colors acres of roadside solid yellow. The flowers attract a wide variety of summer foraging native bees and also provide an excellent nectar source for late season butterflies. This plant grows best in full sun and prefers dry conditions. The seeds are commercially available, including through Native American Seed. Other seed sources can be found through the Native Seed Network.