Today's wildflower, Yellow Leafcup, is often overlooked as one of the many sunflower species growing wild along the roadsides in the eastern US, but take a closer look and you will see that it is quite unique.
Yellow Leafcup can stand from 3 to 10 feet tall, forming thick stands in the woods and meadows where it calls home.
If you look closely at the bloom, you will discover that the true flowers are inconspicuous, and the large, yellow rays are meant only to direct pollinators towards them.
Leafcup's Latin name is Smallanthus uvedalius. Smallanthus means quite literally, "small flower," which seems strange since the flowers aren't all that small. Perhaps they appear small in relation to the overall size of the plant?
Yellow Leafcup used to go by the Latin name Polymnia uvedalia. Polymnia is Greek for "many songs," and references the Greek goddess of the same name
There are two other varieties of Leafcup that can be found in my state of Tennessee. One of them is White-Flowered Leafcup, or Polymnia canadensis.
However, complete blooms are rather lovely upon close inspection.
Yellow Leafcup hasn't ever been recorded as a food source for humans, but it has had many medicinal uses throughout history.
Other tribes used Leafcup's roots as a stimulant and laxative.
In Western medicine it was used by Dr. J. W. Pruitt in the late 1800's to treat glandular tumors and abscesses.
One of its more notable uses was as a hair loss remedy. It was made into a variety of lotions and tonics that were applied to the scalp to help stimulate hair growth.
When it comes to wildlife, Leafcups are a valuable source of food.
Large stands of Leafcup also provide valuable cover for other wildlife species, especially newborn Whitetail fawns.
Be sure to join us for next Wednesday's Wildflower!
Click here to read about last week's wildflower, Turk's Cap Lily
Medicinal information herein is shared strictly for anecdotal purposes. Do not attempt to self-medicate with wild herbs. Please consult a doctor first.
Plants for a Future
Henriette's Herbal Webpage
Cherokee Plants and Their Uses - a 400 Year History - Paul B. Hamel & Mary U. Chiltoskey
Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians - Dennis Horn & Tavia Cathcart
Shared on: Wildcrafting Wednesday, Green Thumb Thursday, Weekend Blog Hop, Simply Natural Saturdays, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Thank Goodness It's Monday