Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Wingstem: Verbesina alternifolia

Weed Description: A perennial that may reach as much as 13 feet in height with showy yellow flowers and conspicuous 'wings' that run along the length of the stem.  Wingstem is primarily a weed of pastures, hay fields, fencerows, roadsides, and rights-of-way.  It is found throughout Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
Seedlings: Cotyledons are oval and without hairs (glabrous). The first true leaves are opposite and lanceolate in outline with slightly toothed margins.

Roots:  A large perennial basal crown from which many new plants may arise.
Leaves:  Leaves are lanceolate to ovate in outline, approximately 3 to 8 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide. Leaves are without hairs (glabrous), taper to the apex and have a toothed, or serrated, margin. Leaves are arranged alternately along the stem, unlike in stickweed.
Stems: Erect, usually unbranced but occasionally branching, ranging from 6 1/2 to 10 feet in height.  Stems are usually without hairs but occasionally have small hairs. Several 'wings' run the length of the entire stem, which is more than likely where this weed gets its common name.  Stems usually persist throughout the winter.
wingstem9-19b.jpg (70290 bytes) Flowers: Many flowers occur in clusters at the ends of the erect stems.  Each flower consists of outer ray flowers and inner disc flowers, all of which are bright yellow in color.  Ray flowers are approximately 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches long, 3 to 6 mm wide.

Fruit:  A brown to black nutlet.

Identifying Characteristics: The tall growth habit, alternately arranged lanceolate leaves, yellow flowers, and distinctive 'wings' that run the length of the stems are all characteristics that help to distinguish wingstem from most other plants. A closely related species, Stickweed (Verbesina occidentalis), is similar in appearance but has alternately arranged leaves unlike those of wingstem. wingstem9-19d.jpg (192121 bytes)