Basin sneezeweed is erect, 1–2 1/2 feet tall, and very hairy except on the flower stems. The threadlike leaves are 1 1/2–2 inches long and are concentrated below the naked flower stems, which are 4–8 inches long. Flowers bloom at the end of the stem and are 1–2 inches across. Ray flowers are yellow and 3-toothed at the end, generally pointing downward. The disc flowers are reddish-brown and almost spherical, with the ray flowers attached to the lower side of the sphere.
The genus is thought to have been named by Linnaeus for Helen of Troy. The legend is that the flowers sprung up from the ground where her tears fell.
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