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Helianthus occidentalis ssp. occidentalis

Previously known as:

  • Helianthus dowellianus
  • Helianthus occidentalis var. dowellianus
Phonetic Spelling
hee-lee-AN-thus ok-sih-den-TAY-liss ok-sih-den-TAY-liss
Description

Naked-stem Sunflower is a native herbaceous perennial wildflower found along rocky or sandy riparian areas.  Easy to identify in the wild by the rosette of stalked, basal leaves, 1 1/2 inches across around the base of the plant's 2 to 4 foot stalk and one to four pairs of small, widely spaced, stalkless leaves on the stem. The blades of basal leaves usually have rounded bottom and blunt tips. Their upper blade surfaces are medium green and rough-textured, while their lower surfaces are light green. In addition to their central veins, the basal leaves have 1 to 2 pairs of lateral veins that originate from the bases of their blades. The slender petioles of the basal leaves are 1 to 4 inches long and light green. The flowering stalk is light green to greenish red and glabrous to hairy, mostly naked, except for 1 to 2 pairs of opposite leaves below and a few alternate leaves above. The blades of opposite or alternate leaves are 1 to 3 inches long and 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch across, lanceolate or elliptic in shape and usually smooth (entire) along their margins. The blades surfaces of these leaves are similar to those of the basal leaves, while their petioles are either absent or up to a 1/2 inch long.

The flowering stalk terminates in 1 to 12 flower heads. Individual flower heads are 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches across, consisting of 8 to 22 ray florets that surround numerous disk florets. The petaloid rays are yellow and oblong to elliptic in shape. The tiny disk florets have tubular corollas that are yellow and 5-lobed. Around the base of each flower head, there are several overlapping floral bracts. The root system is a narrow taproot with shallow rhizomes that sometimes form vegetative colonies. Plants should be divided every 3 or 4 years to control spread and maintain vigor.

The plant prefers full sun, average dry to medium conditions, and well-drained soil. This wildflower will tolerate partial sun and a wide range of soils, from clay to sand; however, clay soil will need to be amended. On deep fertile soil, it is not competitive with other species of plants and is one of the less aggressive Helianthus spp. (sunflowers).

The genus name is from the Greek helios meaning sun and anthos meaning flower. The species name means west in the sense that North America is west of Europe and not that the plant is native to the west.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:

No serious insect or disease problems; however, you may need to stake taller plants for support.

More information on Helianthus.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#wildlife plant#native perennials#NC native#native wildflower#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#piedmont mountains UPL#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#Coastal FACU#pollinator garden#Audubon#silvery checkerspot butterfly#herbaceous wildflower
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#wildlife plant#native perennials#NC native#native wildflower#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#piedmont mountains UPL#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#Coastal FACU#pollinator garden#Audubon#silvery checkerspot butterfly#herbaceous wildflower
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Helianthus
    Species:
    occidentalis
    Family:
    Asteraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Eastern U.S.A.
    Distribution:
    AR, DC, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, MI, MN, MO, NC, NJ, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, WV
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers provide nectar to pollinators from July until the first frost. This is a larval host plant that supports Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis). The Silvery Checkerspot has at least 1-2 broods in the north from June-July in the deep south and Texas, they have as many as 3-4 broods from May through September.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 6 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit which displays from August to November is considered a cypsela, which is a dry, single-seeded fruit, although it is often described as achene. The yellow center disk of each flower forms a head of dry seed.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Stalk terminates in 1 to 12 flower heads. The peduncles of these flowerheads are 1/2 to 6 inches long. Individual flower heads are 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches across, consisting of 8 to 22 ray florets that surround numerous disk florets. The petaloid rays are yellow and oblong to elliptic in shape. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall, lasting about 1 month for a colony of plants.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The blades of the basal leaves are 2 to 7 inches long and 1 to 3 inches across, oval to ovate in shape, smooth (entire) or serrulate margins with sparse small teeth.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Large erect stalk or stem supporting the flower head.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Riparian
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Erosion
    Poor Soil