Jul 06 2014

Why It’s Called Wingstem

Published by at 7:20 am under Plants

Wingstem, upper stem (photo by Kate St. John)

Two months before it blooms we can identify this plant even though it has no flowers.  Look at its stem!

Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) is already five feet tall and on its way to eight.  It will look like this in August.  Meanwhile the stem gives away its name.

The "wings" are petiole extensions that run the length of the stem.  The newest wings at the top of the plant are straight with a dark margin. The older part of the stem has long white hairs in the margins. Sometimes the wings are wavy.

Winged stem on Wingstem (photo by Kate St. John)

To me the wings look like flanges.  "Flange-stem?"

Say that three times quickly and you'll know why it's called wingstem!


(photos by Kate St. John)

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Why It’s Called Wingstem”

  1. Marcy Con 07 Jul 2014 at 12:17 am

    I know where you saw this before….mine is extremely tall this year…cut it back and it seems like it got even taller…I learned and I saw the summer azure butterfly using it as a host plant…

  2. John Mon 03 Feb 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Out here in the Blue Ridge of VA, we have a similar species (Verbesina occidentalis) a typical old field invader, called Stick Weed. Very similar to Wingstem, with the wingy stems, but it has opposite leaves, not alternate…

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