Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Common Sunflower

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Common Sunflower
Scientific Name:Helianthus annus
Plant Type:Annual
Size:up to 8 feet high
Habitat:fields, roadsides and trailsides
Blooms:January to December

Common Sunflower blooms from February to October, nearly all year. It is similar in appearance to Slender Sunflower, but larger and more stout.

The large radiant flowers punctuate the tops of long erect stems, with yellow ray flowers and brownish purple disk flowers, overall varying from 2 to 6 inches in diameter. The leaves are oval shaped with sawtoothed edges and can be as big as 10 inches in diameter. Flowers have a sticky feel, while leaves and stems are hairy and rough.

The giant sunflower you normally see in gardens is a relative of this native. The genus name Helianthus is from two Greek words meaning "sun" and "flower". The species name annus means "annual". Native people used not only the seeds as food, but cultivated fibers from the stems and made a dye from the flowers.

Contributed by Liz Baumann

Other Similar Plants:
California Aster Corethrogyne filaginifolia
Giant Coreopsis Coreopsis gigantea
Coyote Brush Baccharis pilularis
Bush Sunflower Encelia californica
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
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: September 2013
Last modified: October 14 2017 23:15:30.
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