Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This perennial wildflower is 2½-5' tall and unbranched, except where the flowerheads occur. The central stem is light green to reddish purple, terete, and more or less covered with either short stiff hairs or longer bristly hairs. Pairs of opposite leaves occur along the central stem; each pair of leaves rotates 90° from an adjacent pair of leaves. There may be 1-2 smaller alternate leaves along the top of the central stem, or along upper lateral stems, underneath the flowerheads. Leaf blades are 2½-6" long and ½-2½" across; they are narrowly lanceolate to ovate in shape and serrated to nearly toothless along their margins. The upper surface of the leaf blades is medium green and rough-textured from minute stiff hairs, while the lower surface is pale green and more or less pubescent. The short petioles are usually ¼-½" long. The central stem and any lateral stems terminate in flowerheads on erect to ascending peduncles (flowering stalks) about 1-4" long. These peduncles have characteristics that are similar to the central stem. Individual flowerheads are 2-3" across, consisting of 10-15 ray florets that surround numerous disk florets. The ray florets have petal-like corollas that are yellow; they are sterile. The disk florets have yellow tubular corollas that are perfect and fertile; they are 5-lobed along their upper rims. Around the base of each flowerhead, there are light green phyllaries (floral bracts) in 3-4 overlapping series; they are narrowly lanceolate to lanceolate in shape and slightly ciliate. When the flowerheads bloom, the phyllaries are ascending to widely spreading. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall for about 2 months. Afterwards, the disk florets are replaced by achenes about 4 mm. long that are narrowly ovoid, somewhat flattened, and glabrous (hairless). Each achene has a pair of tiny chaffy scales at its apex that become detached easily. The root system is fibrous and long-rhizomatous. This wildflower often forms colonies of plants from the rhizomes.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Hairy Sunflower is occasional throughout Illinois. Habitats include thinly wooded bluffs, upland savannas, borders of upland woodlands, black soil prairies, sand prairies, limestone glades, areas along railroads, and abandoned fields. In upland areas with woody vegetation, this wildflower is often associated with oak trees. It is found in both disturbed and higher quality habitats.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Perennials, 100–200 cm (rhi-zomatous). Stems erect, hirsute. Leaves cauline; mostly opposite; petioles 0.4–2 cm; blades (3-nerved from bases) lanceolate to ovate, 6.5–18 × 1–8 cm, bases truncate to broadly rounded or cuneate, margins subentire to serrate (flat), abaxial faces ± hirsute, gland-dotted (adaxial not gland-dotted). Heads 1–7. Peduncles 1–5 cm. Involucres hemispheric, 10–25 mm diam. Phyllaries 18–25 (usually loose, spreading, not reflexed), lanceolate, 7–12 × 2.5–3.5 mm, (margins ciliate) apices acute to short-acuminate, abaxial faces not gland-dotted. Paleae 7–10 mm, 3-toothed (apices yellowish, hairy). Ray florets 10–15; laminae 15–20 mm. Disc florets 40+; corollas 5.5–6.5 mm, lobes yellow; anthers dark brown or black, appendages dark or yellowish. Cypselae 4–4.5 mm, glabrate or distally puberulent; pappi of 2 aristate scales 2.5–3.2 mm. 2n = 68.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Helianthus hirsutus var. stenophyllus Torrey & A. Gray; H. hirsutus var. trachyphyllus Torrey & A. Gray; H. stenophyllus (Torrey & A. Gray) E. Watson
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Hairy Sunflower is occasional throughout Illinois. Habitats include thinly wooded bluffs, upland savannas, borders of upland woodlands, black soil prairies, sand prairies, limestone glades, areas along railroads, and abandoned fields. In upland areas with woody vegetation, this wildflower is often associated with oak trees. It is found in both disturbed and higher quality habitats.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Associations

Faunal Associations

The nectar and pollen of Hairy Sunflower and other sunflowers attract a wide variety of insects, including long-tongued bees (honeybees, bumblebees, leaf-cutting bees, miner bees, cuckoo bees), short-tongued bees (Halictid bees & Andrenid bees), miscellaneous wasps, flies (Syrphid flies, bee flies, thick-headed flies, & others), butterflies and skippers, and occasional beetles. Several bees are specialist pollinators (oligoleges) of sunflowers
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Helianthus hirsutus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, mesic to dry conditions, and soil that contains clay-loam, loam, rocky material, or sand. Hairy Sunflower is easy to grow, but it may spread aggressively in some situations.
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Notes

Comments

Helianthus hirsutus is distinguished from H. strumosus by hairy stems and usually yellow (as opposed to dark) anther appendages, and from H. divaricatus by petioles and leaf blades 3-nerved distal to bases. Mexican plants of H. hirsutus are sometimes labeled with the synonymous H. leptocaulis (S. Watson) S. F. Blake, and plants from Mexico and the southwestern United States often have leaf bases cuneate rather than truncate.
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