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
Family:Asteraceae
Plant Type:Annual
Size:up to 8 feet high
Habitat:fields, roadsides and trailsides
Blooms:January to December
Fire Response:Stump Sprout or Seed

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


Common Sunflower - Originally featured: September 2013
Last modified: October 14 2017 16:15:30.
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