Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Helianthus annuus, Common Sunflower

Helianthus annuus, Common SunflowerHelianthus annuus, Common SunflowerHelianthus annuus, Common SunflowerHelianthus annuus, Common Sunflower

Scientific Name: Helianthus annuus
Common Name: Common Sunflower
Also Called: Annual Sunflower, Hopi Sunflower, Sunflower and 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)
Status: Native
Duration: Annual
Size: Up to 9 feet.
Growth Form: Forb/herb, shrub; 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; showy, radiate; ligulate ray flowers bright yellow, 13 to many, disk flowers numerous, variable, reddish or yellow, anthers brown or black, flower heads few to many; seed is an achene.
Flowering Season: March to October.
Elevation: 100 to 7,000 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Multiple habitat types widely distributed across its range, riparian communities, roadsides and irrigated fields.
Recorded Range: Throughout most of North America and Mexico. Introduced nearly worldwide. Native throughout most of Arizona.

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 federal government and the State of Iowa. Plants included here are invasive or noxious.

Wetland Indicator: Helianthus annuus is listed on the USDA 2012 National Wetland Plant List.

Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available.

Genus Information: 62 species in Helianthus. There are 15 species of Helianthus listed as Threatened or Endangered. Arizona has 8 species in this genus and none are listed as Threatened or Endangered. However the Algodones Dunes Sunflower, Helianthus niveus ssp. tephrodes, recorded in Yuma, Co, Arizona, is listed by the State of California as Endangered.

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, Helianthus petiolaris. However, Common Sunflower generally has much larger leaves.

Sunflower seeds are produced commercially and readily eaten by birds, small mammals and humans.

Several ethno-botanical including being made into a poultice and applied to snakebites while the oils from the seeds were used "to lubricate or paint the face or body". See full species account from Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

Date Profile Completed: 7/31/2012; 06/30/2015; Updated, 07/25/2015, updated 10/12/2016
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database - Integrated Taxonomic Information System, ITIS, Tue Jul 31 2012 02:45:37 MDT,
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles
The Jepson Manual, Citation: Tue Jul 31 13:51:29 2012
Edward E. Schilling, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Helianthus, Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford. (accessed 07/31/2012)
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,
Listed as a Weed by:
STATE - Assorted authors. 200_. State noxious weed lists for 46 states. State agriculture or natural resource departments.
NE&GP - Stubbendieck, J., G.Y. Friisoe, & M.R. Bolick. 1994. Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains. Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry. Lincoln, Nebraska.
SWSS - Southern Weed Science Society. 1998. Weeds of the United States and Canada. CD-ROM. Southern Weed Science Society. Champaign, Illinois.
WSWS - Whitson, T.D. (ed.) et al. 1996. Weeds of the West. Western Society of Weed Science in cooperation with Cooperative Extension Services, University of Wyoming. Laramie, Wyoming. Listed as a State Noxious Weed in Iowa - Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship. 2002. The Iowa weed law (20 October 2003). Iowa Department of Agriculture & land Stewardship.