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Prairie Sunflower
Helianthus petiolaris
About Prairie Sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris) 0 Nurseries Carry This Plant Helianthus petiolaris is a North American plant species in the sunflower family, commonly known as the prairie sunflower or lesser sunflower. Naturalist and botanist Thomas Nuttall was the first to described the prairie sunflower in 1821. The word petiolaris in Latin means, "having a petiole". The originated in western United States, but has since expanded east. The prairie sunflower is considered a be a weed. Helianthus petiolaris originated in the dry prairies of Minnesota, Oregon, Texas, the Dakotas, California, and other states in western and central United States. It has since expanded its distribution to throughout the eastern United States and into central and western Canada. Helianthus petiolaris is now the most widely distributed species of sunflower besides H. annuus. Habitat and ecology. The prairie sunflower is commonly found growing in sandy areas. They can also be found in heavy clay soil and in dry prairies. The prairie sunflower is unable to grow in shady areas; it needs to be in direct sunlight. It requires dry to moist soil. This species of sunflower is an annual flower, blooming between the months of June and September. The prairie sunflower can be found from the Great Plains, the Rockies, the desert regions of the Southwest, etc. Morphology. Individuals of this species occur as shrubs and also as taprooted annuals. They can grow up to four feet tall (120 cm). The leaves appear alternate and the flowers have a close resemblance to the traditional sunflower. The flowers are hermaphrodite, which means the flowers contain both male and female parts. The stem of the flower is erect and hairy. The leaves on the shrub are alternate, has a lanceolate shape, rough in texture, are bluish-green in color, and has a length between 2-5 inches. Flowers.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Plant Type
Perennial herb, Annual herb

Flower Color
Flower Color

Wildlife Supported


Landscaping Information
Common uses
Common uses
Bee Gardens

Natural Setting
Annual Precipitation: 3.1" - 35.2", Summer Precipitation: 0.16" - 1.99", Coldest Month: 35.8" - 59.4", Hottest Month: 63.2" - 88.6", Humidity: 1.75" - 39.30", Elevation: 58" - 5597"

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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