Photo by: Carl Strang
Wingstem, Actinomeris alternifolia, flowers

Flowering period


This plant is 3-8 feet tall and unbranched. The central stem is usually winged, with scattered white hairs between the ridges. The alternate leaves are up to 10 inches long and 2½ inches across. They are lanceolate to narrowly ovate and rather coarse-looking, with a rough texture. The margin of each leaf is smooth or slightly serrated, and there are white hairs along the major veins on the underside. At the apex of the plant are numerous daisy-like composite flowers with a ragged appearance. Each flower is about 1-2 inches across, and has 2-10 yellow ray florets that droop downward. The greenish yellow disk florets are prominent and numerous, projecting outward from the center like a pincushion with thick needles. The achenes are broad, flat, and winged, each with two slender awns.

DuPage County Notes

Wingstem is a characteristic native perennial plant of our floodplains, both shaded and unshaded.  Wingstem is almost always found in association with wild golden glow. Summer azure butterflies often are found around wingstem, and their caterpillars eat the flowers.

Most recent observations

User contributed image from Wildlife Habitat  Council containing Wingstem 1 month 1 week ago Wildlife Habitat Council observed...
Wingstem still in bloom at Lemont Quarry BioBlitz on 1 November 2014.
User contributed image from Gretchen Dayton containing Wingstem on Fullersburg Woods Preserve 4 months 1 week ago at Fullersburg Woods, Gretchen Dayton observed...
Wingstem gets its name from the four wings on its stem. It's kind of a messy looking plant and is very tall. Next time you see one you might want to feel its rather unusual stem.

Typical and characteristic habitat

Preserves where you might see this species


Habitats in DuPage County where this species has been recorded