Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil moisture: Dry to medium
Flowering period: May to July
Host plant for 2 caterpillar species
Tall thimbleweed’s upturned flowers and broad, divided leaves are arranged in tier-like fashion along its straight stems, drawing the observer into the multi-level, miniature world of the shade garden. Uppermost on the plant, a halo of yellow anthers encircles the flower’s green center, producing pollen to attract a variety of small bees and flies. After the flower loses its white, petal-like sepals, it continues to be an object of visual interest, giving way to a seedhead that is at first green and bristly, and later fluffy and white as it releases its seeds to the wind.
Growing best under conditions of partial shade and moderate soil moisture, tall thimbleweed can be found along woodland edges and in forests possessing an open canopy structure within its native NE Ohio range. Tall thimbleweed produces its eye-catching flowers during early summer and attains a height of 12 to 40 inches. The plant can form colonies through spreading via underground stems, called rhizomes, and it is known to discourage the growth of some other species’ seedlings by secreting a chemical called protoanemonin. Tall thimbleweed’s foliage is distasteful to deer and other herbivores, making it a good choice for gardens that have issues with herbivory.
Photos by Ashley Keesling.