Tall sunflower (Helianthus giganteus)

loading
Tall sunflowers

Top facts

  • The tall sunflower can grow to over 3 metres tall.
  • The tall sunflower can have up to 12 conspicuous yellow flower heads on one plant.
  • The species name, giganteus, means ‘very large’ but only refers to the height of the plant as the flowers are actually relatively small.
  • The tall sunflower is found throughout many central and eastern states in USA and Canada.
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Tall sunflower fact file

Tall sunflower description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderAsterales
FamilyAsteraceae
GenusHelianthus (1)

The tall sunflower (Helianthus giganteus) is aptly named, being capable of growing to heights of over three metres (2).  The genus name, Helianthus, is derived from the Greek words helios and anthos, meaning ‘sun’ and ‘flower’, while the species name, giganteus, means ‘very large’ (3). The common and scientific names of this species refer only to the great heights to which it can grow, as the conspicuous, yellow flowers are actually relatively small (2). The flower heads are usually between 4 and 8 centimetres wide with 10 to 20 yellow petals (3). There can be up to 12 heads on each tall sunflower plant, with more than 60 disc florets on each head and dark brown or black anthers and appendages (4). The stems are hairy and a dull reddish-purple colour (4) (5). Leaves that grow lower down on the stem are opposite one another, whilst higher leaves grow alternately (3) (6).

Size
Height: over 3 m (2)
Top

Tall sunflower biology

The genus Helianthus covers around 50 North American species (6). The tall sunflower is a perennial, herbaceous plant (2) (6). It grows straight stemmed from short rhizome roots, and flowers between July and October (6). It is often the most commonly seen sunflower in the central Midwest wetlands (6). The tall sunflower hybridises with both Helianthus nuttallii and Helianthus grosseserratus (4). The seed heads are known to attract birds and bees (2).

Top

Tall sunflower range

The tall sunflower is currently considered native in many central and eastern states in USA and Canada, from New York and Ontario in the east, west through Illinois to Minnesota and south as far as Georgia (2) (5). It is thought to have been introduced in Newfoundland (4).

Top

Tall sunflower habitat

The tall sunflower grows in areas with moist soil such as marshes and swamps (2) (3) (4) (6). It can grow in wooded and forested areas (3) (6), but is usually found in full sunshine (5).

Top

Tall sunflower status

The tall sunflower has not yet been assessed by the IUCN.

Top

Tall sunflower threats

Drought can pose a potential threat to the tall sunflower, but there are currently no serious insect or disease problems threatening this species (5).

Top

Tall sunflower conservation

The tall sunflower is currently listed as endangered in Illinois (5).

Top

Find out more

Find out more about the tall sunflower:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Anther
Part of the stamen (the male reproductive organ of a flower) that produces pollen.
Disc floret (disc florets)
One of the small, tubular florets (tiny, individual flowers) which make up the central part of a composite flower head, such as in a daisy or sunflower. Each disc floret has reproductive parts (pistil and stamens) but generally no other conspicuous flower parts.
Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Herbaceous
Describes a small, non-woody, seed bearing plant in which all the aerial parts die back at the end of each growing season.
Hybridisation
Cross-breeding between two different species or subspecies.
Perennial
A plant that normally lives for more than two years. After an initial period, the plant usually produces flowers once a year.
Rhizome
An underground, horizontal plant stem that produces roots and shoots.
Top

References

  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (January, 2014)
    http://www.itis.gov/
  2. Native Plant Database - The University of Texas at Austin (January, 2014)
    http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=HEGI
  3. Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium - Helianthus giganteus (January, 2014)
    http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=HELGIG
  4. Flora of North America (January, 2014)
    http://www.efloras.org/
  5. University of Illinois Extension - Helianthus giganteus (January, 2014)
    http://urbanext.illinois.edu/hortanswers/plantdetail.cfm?PlantID=843&PlantTypeID=14
  6. Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2008) Acanthaceae to Myricaceae: Water Willows to Wax Myrtles. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois.
X
Close

Image credit

Tall sunflowers  
Tall sunflowers

© Paroli Galperti/Cuboimages / www.photoshot.com

NHPA/Photoshot Holdings Ltd
29-31 Saffron Hill
London
EC1N 8SW
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7421 6003
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7421 6006
sales@photoshot.com
http://www.photoshot.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Tall sunflower (Helianthus giganteus) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in the Illinois eco-region

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog