One is the fact that the related species Wingstem, Verbesina alternifolia, is common over the entire property and shaded individuals of that species are more diminutive and come close to resembling the Hairy species. A cursory glance at this winged stem might cause a person to call it a Wingstem, especially since stunted plants of the standard Wingstem are within 100 feet in all directions of this site. Close examination of the Hairy Wingstem does confirm that it is hairier than its relative.
The most noticeable difference is the feel of the leaf as you rub it between thumb and finger. Hairy Wingstem is soft and pliable, while Wingstem is rough and stiff.
The heads resemble several other species of yellow woodland sunflowers, so are sometimes overlooked on that account.
It gives the impression that the plant has suffered some injury or disease that resulted in an unsightly plant deformity.
Tree loss has caused the canopy in this section of the woods to open more during the last 10 years. I’m wondering if the plants have been stunted by lack of light and just in the last few years have begun to grow to their full potential. I guess the reason for my inability to find the plants until now is not as important as the fact that the plants are here. I counted over 100 Hairy Wingstem plants and at least 30 of those are currently flowering. It’ll be fun to watch the changes in this patch over the next few years.