Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Bush Sunflower

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Bush Sunflower
Scientific Name:Encelia californica
Plant Type:Perennial
Size:up to five feet
Habitat:Chaparral and Coastal Sage Scrub
Blooms:December to August

The bright, showy yellow blooms of Bush Sunflower can be found dotting hillsides from February to June. This fairly common plant takes the shape of a much-branched shrub, with hairy grayish-green stems supporting alternating lance-shaped leaves 1 to 3 inches long. The solitary flowers are found at the ends of long stalks. The central disk of the flower is a brownish color (sometimes with yellow) and is up to an inch in diameter. Striking yellow ray florets extend from the brownish center, their lengths commonly a bit longer than the diameter of the disk.

Like other sunflowers, bees, butterflies and insects are attracted to the plant's blossoms. The Bush Sunflower does not tolerate frost, and thus is somewhat limited in its geographical range to the more moderate climates within California such as near the coast or in the lower-elevation foothills.

The genus name Encelia comes from Christoph Entzelt, a German clergyman and naturalist who lived in the 1500s and wrote about the medicinal uses of plants and animals.

Contributed by Liz Baumann

Other Similar Plants:
California Aster Corethrogyne filaginifolia
Giant Coreopsis Coreopsis gigantea
Coyote Brush Baccharis pilularis
California Thistle Cirsium occidentale var. californ
Mule Fat Baccharis salicifolia
Canyon Sunflower Venegasia carpesioides
Golden Yarrow Eriophyllum confertiflorum
Mugwort Artemisia douglasiana
Slender Sunflower Helianthus gracilentus
Common Sunflower Helianthus annus
San Diego Milk-aster Stephanomeria diegensis
Perezia, Sacapellote Acourtia microcephala
Cliff Aster Malacothrix saxatilis
Tejon Milk-Aster Stephanomeria cichoriacea
Rock Daisy Perityle emoryi
California Goldfields Lasthenia californica
Royal or Southern Goldfields Lasthenia coronaria
Lyons Pentachaeta Pentachaeta lyonii
Annual Coreopsis Leptosyne bigelovii
Slender Tarweed Deinandra fasciculata
Common Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Sagebrush Artemisia californica
Telegraph Weed Hetertheca grandiflora

Originally featured: June 2010
Last modified: May 12 2017 23:40:50.
Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Images Botanical Terms for Leaves