Helianthus strumosus (Woodland Sunflower)
|Also known as:||Pale-leaved Sunflower|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; open woods, woodland edges, roadsides|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||2 to 6 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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3 to 15 flowers at the top of the stem and arising from the upper leaf axils. Flowers are 1½ to 4 inches across with 8 to 20 yellow rays (petals) and a yellow center disk.
The bracts behind the flower are relatively short, not much exceeding the center disk, and slightly spreading. Width is variable, more often relatively wide but may be narrow. Edges are usually hairy, surfaces are smooth or variously covered in short, stiff hairs. Flowering stems are typically rough textured.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are 2½ to 7 inches long, ¾ to 4 inches wide, rounded or slightly tapering at the base, usually with a long taper to a pointed tip but lower leaves may be more egg-shaped. Leaf stalks are 3/8 to 1¼ inches long, leaf edges are toothless or with irregular, shallow teeth, surfaces are variously smooth to hairy, often rough textured on the upper surface and densely short-hairy and paler in color on the underside. Attachment is mostly opposite but may be alternate in the upper plant.
Stems are mostly smooth, but may be rough near the flowers, and often covered with a white bloom like on the skin of a plum. Stems are unbranched except in the flowers.
The center disk forms a head of dry seed, each seed about ¼ inch long and without a tuft of hair, but with 2 bristly scales at the tip.
Woodland Sunflower is a rather variable species, particularly in leaf shape and degree of hairiness. The few things all the references seem to agree on, and that can actually help distinguish this from other Minnesota native sunflowers, are: a mostly smooth stem that may have a whitish bloom, leaf stalks usually at least ½ inch long, and bracts that do not much exceed the width of the flower disk. Woodland Sunflower most closely resembles Hairy Sunflower (Helianthus hirsutus), which has a bristly hairy stem all the way to the base of the plant, and leaf stalks less than ½ inch long. Woodland Sunflower hybridizes with both Hairy Sunflower and Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), which makes an ID even more challenging.
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- Woodland Sunflower plant
- Woodland Sunflower habitat
- leaf hairs
- upper and lower leaf color
- narrow variation of bracts
Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Sucker Lake, Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?
on: 2015-06-28 11:03:05
This wildflower is along the mouth of the path in battle creek park in St. Paul where the path meets Ruth Street and North Park Drive. It's on the SW corner of the intersection
on: 2015-09-23 15:37:56
Picture was taken in September, most of the colony was seeding except some in the shade. How do I upload a picture here?
on: 2015-09-23 17:13:25
Mohammed, the images on the Minnesota Wildflowers website are taken by staff and select volunteers. Sorry we don't publish fan images here, but you are free to post your images on the Minnesota Wildflowers facebook page if you like.
on: 2016-07-17 08:46:23
A few of these growing along my trail near Pillsbury Forest.
on: 2017-08-15 05:42:03
South facing sunny side of moraine mixed in with aspen and balsam fir, north shore of Fish Lake adjacent to Hi-Banks Resort. Flowering began mid-July.
on: 2018-09-09 13:51:57
Thank you so much for the information you share here. I was able to use the advanced search feature to identify the pretty yellow flowers growing along a trail in our neighborhood. I had no idea there are sunflowers other than the cultivated/crop species!
on: 2020-08-11 01:52:38
We have the Woodland Sunflower growing in an open wooded area of our backyard bordered by hostess. It is a hardy grower with visual interest. And, gold finches love the seed!! Thanks for the great information on this site.
on: 2020-08-18 09:36:45
Along the Munger Trail in Moose Lake. Small patch at edge of woods.
on: 2022-08-10 20:10:50
blooming along the trails at Neilson Spearhead Center.
on: 2022-08-14 16:57:56
Studying weeds and mushrooms for nutrition and health benefits. It's everywhere I look. which is why I looked it up.