Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Canyon Sunflower

Foothill Penstemon

Canyon Sunflower

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Canyon Sunflower
Scientific Name:Venegasia carpesioides
Family:Asteraceae
Plant Type:Shrub
Size:up to 8 feet
Habitat:shady places in Oak Woodland, Sage Scrub and Chaparral
Blooms:December to July
Fire Response:Stump Sprout or Seed

Canyon sunflower makes bright yellow spots in shady areas throughout many plant communities in the Santa Monica Mountains. The flowers bloom from February up to September, depending on heat and moisture conditions.

The plant is widely branched with reddish-brown stems emanating from a slightly woody base. The plentiful leaves are heart-shaped, broad and up to 6 inches long. Flowers occur at the ends of stems. One flower has 13-21 ray flowers or petals, all a bright cheerful yellow color, radiating to a 2 inch or so diameter. The center or disk flowers are also yellow, usually a slightly darker shade. While the entire plant is visually beautiful with its contrasting dark stems, large light green leaves and bright yellow flowers, it has a slight unpleasant odor.

The genus name Venegazia is named after Padre Miguel Venegas, a Mexican scholar and historian. The species name carpesioides means "like Carpesium", another flower in the Sunflower family.

Contributed by Liz Baumann


Originally featured: June 2012
Last modified: May 12 2017 16:40:52.
References:
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