Helianthus annuus (Common Sunflower)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||sun; disturbed soil, roadsides, fields, waste areas|
|Bloom season:||August - October|
|Plant height:||3 to 7 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Single daisy-like flower at the end of a branching stem. Flowers are 3 to 6 inches across with 17 to 40 yellow rays (petals). The center disk is larger than most sunflowers, rarely less than 1¼ inches across, the disk flowers dark reddish brown to yellow, with yellow styles.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are 4 to 16 inches long, 2 to 8 inches wide, egg to heart-shaped to triangular with rounded angles at the base, rough-textured on both surfaces, usually toothed edges that may be a bit wavy, 3 primary veins radiating from the base, and a stalk ¾ to 8 inches long. Attachment is mostly alternate but sometimes opposite in the lowest leaves. The main stem is quite stout and covered to varying degrees in stiff hairs.
Common Sunflower is present in all 50 states, though only native to the lower 48, and is the plant from which many cultivated sunflowers were derived. I have mostly seen it in full sun along roadsides and construction sites, where the soil is heavily disturbed and usually dry. Common Sunflower has been labeled a noxious weedy species in some agricultural areas but modern herbicides have taken care of that. Overall it resembles Prairie Sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris) which has leaves and a center disk that are proportionately much smaller.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?