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False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) is not considered a true sunflower (Helianthus sp.) because both the ray and disk florets of its flowerheads can produce seeds. In contrast, only the disk florets of sunflowers can produce seeds. In contrast to both False Sunflower and true sunflowers, only the ray florets of Silphium spp. can produce seeds, while their disk florets are seedless. All of these species are relatively large and robust plants that produce showy flowerheads with yellow rays, and they prefer habitats that are at least partly sunny. False Sunflower resembles many sunflower species, particularly those that are found in and around woodlands. In addition to the difference in the fertility of their florets, False Sunflower can be distinguished by its more erect flowerheads, by the rather stout and blunt-tipped phyllaries on its flowerheads, and by the arrangement of its outer phyllaries in a single series. In contrast, most sunflower species have flowerheads that nod sideways, their phyllaries are either more slender (linear-lanceolate in shape) or they are triangular with acute tips, and they have several overlapping series of outer phyllaries. Return

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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