Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Stickweed or Yellow Crownbeard: Verbesina occidentalis

verbrapp4-30.jpg (172360 bytes) 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.  Stickweed is primarily a weed of pastures, hay fields, fencerows, roadsides, and rights-of-way. 
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.

verbesinamassie.jpg (151509 bytes)
verbesinamassie2.jpg (246327 bytes) 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.  Stems usually persist throughout the winter, which is more than likely where this weed gets one of its common names.
Leaves:  Leaves are lanceolate to ovate in outline, approximately 3 to 8 inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide.  Leaves are without hairs (glabrous), taper to the apex and have a toothed, or serrated, margin.   Leaves are arranged oppositely along the stem, unlike in wingstem. wingstemrapp.jpg (165416 bytes)
verbesina4-25c.jpg (196092 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 1/2 to 3/4 inches long, 4 to 7 mm wide.

Fruit:  A brown to black nutlet.

Identifying Characteristics:   The tall growth habit, oppositely arranged lanceolate leaves, yellow flowers, and distinctive 'wings' that run the length of the stems are all characteristics that help to distinguish stickweed from most other plants.  A closely related species, Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia), is similar in appearance but has alternately arranged leaves unlike those of stickweed. verbesinarapp.jpg (156304 bytes)