Helianthus annuus, Common Sunflower
Scientific Name: Helianthus annuus
Common Name: Common Sunflower
Also Called: Annual Sunflower, Hopi Sunflower, Sunflower, Wild Sunflower (Spanish: Girasol, Mirasol, Flor de Sol)
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Helianthus annuus ssp. jaegeri, Helianthus annuus ssp. lenticularis, Helianthus annuus ssp. texanus, Helianthus annuus var. lenticularis, Helianthus annuus var. macrocarpus, Helianthus annuus var. texanus, Helianthus aridus, Helianthus lenticularis)
Size: Up to 9 feet.
Growth Form: Forb/herb, subshrub; erect main stem; branching on upper growth; rough, hairy.
Leaves: Bright green; leaves cordate or heart shaped, large, ovate or lanceolate; margins serrate; long petiole; leaves opposite below, and mostly alternate above.
Flower Color: Yellow, with maroon centers; showy, large flowers up to 5 inches across; radiate; ligulate ray flowers bright yellow, 13 or more disk flowers numerous; variable, reddish or yellow, anthers brown or black; flower heads few to many; seed is an achene.
Flowering Season: June to October.
Elevation: 100 to 7,000 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Multiple habitat types across its large distribution throughout North America; riparian communities, roadsides and irrigated fields, disturbed areas, scrub, grassland, many other habitats.
Recorded Range: Throughout most of North America and Mexico. Introduced nearly worldwide. Found throughout most of the southwestern United States.
North America & US County Distribution Map for Helianthus annuus.
U.S. Weed Information: Helianthus annuus is listed in 46 states and in: Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains, Weeds of the United States and Canada, and Weeds of the West. Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Helianthus annuus is listed as a Noxious Weed by the State of Iowa. Plants included here are invasive or noxious.
Wetland Indicator: In North America Helianthus annuus has the following wetland designations: Alaska, FAC; Arid West, FACU; Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, FAC; Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, FAC; Great Plains, FACU; Midwest, FACU; Northcentral & Northeast, FACU; Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FACU.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available.
Genus Information: In North America there are about 50 species and 10 hybrids for Helianthus. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 71 accepted species names and a further 128 species of infraspecific rank for the genus.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 8 species of Helianthus, California has 11 species, Nevada has 7 species, New Mexico has 14 species, Texas has 21 species, Utah has 6 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.
Comments: The Common Sunflower is perhaps one the most recognized flowers in the world. It is highly variable and readily hybridizes with several other native species and cultivars. In Arizona, Common Sunflower is similar to, and may be confused with the Prairie Sunflower. However, Common Sunflower generally has much larger leaves.
Sunflowers are favored by many native species of bees and the seeds are readily eaten by birds, small mammals and humans. Check out the Xerces Society for current information relating to invertebrate conservation.
The Common Sunflower has been used for many purposes United States indigenous peoples.
See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.