Wildlife

Wasatch Wildflowers: Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

WASATCH MOUNTAINS, Utah. Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual herb native to Utah. It’s a historically important plant in North America and has been utilized by indigenous peoples since pre-Columbian times. Natives employed the yellow dye from the flower heads and dark black or blue dye from the seeds for basketry and weaving. Today there are wide varieties of sunflowers, including species grown for seed cultivation to make cooking oil or feed livestock.

Common Sunflower grows between 2 and 8 feet tall. The hairy stem often contains several branches, each with a few or many flowers. The flowers grow between 3 and 5 inches across, with bright yellow rays surrounding a maroon-colored disk. The leaves are typically larger and heart-shaped near the base of the plant, and at the top of the plant, narrower and smaller.

Common sunflowers grow in dry, disturbed soils, especially along roadsides and the edges of fields. They bloom mid-summer through October between 4000 – 80000 feet.

Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – photo: Ashley Brown

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