Helianthus petiolaris, Prairie Sunflower
Scientific Name: Helianthus petiolaris
Common Name: Prairie Sunflower
Also Called: Plains Sunflower, Sunflower (Spanish: Girasol)
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Helianthus niveus ssp. canescens, Helianthus canescens, Helianthus canus)
Duration: Annual, taproot
Size: 6 feet or more, usually much less.
Growth Form: Shrub; erect with many branching stems, glaucous or densely gray-canescent; rough.
Leaves: Green or bluish-green; leaves mostly alternate; petiolate; lanceolate to widely ovate; margins entire or serrate; rough, hairy.
Flower Color: Yellow; showy radiate heads (1 to 10 heads) borne on terminal tips; green phyllaries are lanceolate to widely ovate; ray flowers yellow, 10 to 30, disk florets numerous, reddish-brown, seed an achene.
Flowering Season: March to October.
Elevation: 500 to 7,500 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Sunny open areas, sandy or gravelly areas, roadsides and disturbed areas, dry or moist areas.
Recorded Range: Much of the United States and Canada and south into northern Mexico. Found in scattered populations throughout most of the southwestern United States.
North America & US County Distribution Map for Helianthus petiolaris.
U.S. Weed Information: Helianthus petiolaris is included in Weeds of the United States and Canada. Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No data available,
Wetland Indicator: No data available,
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.
There are 2 sub species in Helianthus petiolaris
Helianthus petiolaris ssp. fallax, Prairie Sunflower, (AZ, CO, NV, UT, NM )
Helianthus petiolaris ssp. petiolaris, Prairie Sunflower (most of North America);
Comments: The large bright attractive flowers are visited frequently by many insects including many 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.
Prairie Sunflower is similar in appearance to the Common Sunflower which generally has much larger leaves. Both of these beautiful species are often considered weeds by some authorities.
Prairie Sunflower is used as a drug by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
See entire listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.