The green links below add additional plants to the comparison table. Blue links lead to other Web sites.
enable glossary links

common sunflower, hairy leaf sunflower, sunflower

Habit Annuals, 100–300 cm.

erect, usually hispid.


mostly cauline; mostly alternate;

petioles 2–20 cm;

blades lance-ovate to ovate, 10–40 × 5–40 cm, bases cuneate to subcordate or cordate, margins serrate, abaxial faces usually ± hispid, sometimes gland-dotted.


2–20 cm.


hemispheric or broader, 15–40(–200+) mm diam.

Ray florets


laminae 25–50 mm.

Disc florets


corollas 5–8 mm (throats ± bulbous at bases), lobes usually reddish, sometimes yellow;

anthers brownish to black, appendages yellow or dark (style branches yellow).


20–30(–100+), ovate to lance-ovate, 13–25 × (3–)5–8 mm, (margins usually ciliate) apices abruptly narrowed, long-acuminate, abaxial faces usually hirsute to hispid, rarely glabrate or glabrous, usually gland-dotted.




(3–)4–5(–15) mm, glabrate;

pappi of 2 lanceolate scales 2–3.5 mm plus 0–4 obtuse scales 0.5–1 mm.


9–11 mm, 3-toothed (middle teeth long-acuminate, glabrous or hispid).


= 34.

Helianthus annuus

Phenology Flowering summer–fall.
Habitat Open areas
Elevation 0–3000 m (0–9800 ft)
from FNA
AL; AR; AZ; CA; CO; CT; DC; DE; FL; GA; IA; ID; IL; IN; KS; KY; LA; MA; MD; ME; MI; MN; MO; MS; MT; NC; ND; NE; NH; NJ; NM; NV; NY; OH; OK; OR; PA; RI; SC; SD; TN; TX; UT; VA; VT; WA; WI; WV; WY; AB; BC; MB; NB; NS; NT; ON; PE; QC; SK; SPM; Mexico; intoduced nearly worldwide
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]

Helianthus annuus is widely distributed, including weedy, cultivated, and escaped plants. It is the only native North American species to become a major agronomic crop. Despite its considerable variability, attempts have failed to produce a widely adopted infraspecific system of classification. Forms with red-colored ray laminae, known from cultivation and occasionally seen escaped, trace their ancestry to a single original mutant plant. It hybridizes with many of the other annual species.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 21, p. 149.
Parent taxa Asteraceae > tribe Heliantheae > subtribe Helianthinae > Helianthus
Sibling taxa
H. agrestis, H. angustifolius, H. anomalus, H. argophyllus, H. arizonensis, H. atrorubens, H. bolanderi, H. californicus, H. carnosus, H. ciliaris, H. cusickii, H. debilis, H. decapetalus, H. deserticola, H. divaricatus, H. eggertii, H. exilis, H. floridanus, H. giganteus, H. glaucophyllus, H. gracilentus, H. grosseserratus, H. heterophyllus, H. hirsutus, H. laciniatus, H. laevigatus, H. longifolius, H. maximiliani, H. microcephalus, H. mollis, H. neglectus, H. niveus, H. nuttallii, H. occidentalis, H. paradoxus, H. pauciflorus, H. petiolaris, H. porteri, H. praecox, H. pumilus, H. radula, H. resinosus, H. salicifolius, H. schweinitzii, H. silphioides, H. simulans, H. smithii, H. strumosus, H. tuberosus, H. verticillatus, H. ×laetiflorus
Synonyms H. annuus subsp. jaegeri, H. annuus subsp. lenticularis, H. annuus var. lenticularis, H. annuus var. macrocarpus, H. annuus subsp. texanus, H. aridus, H. jaegeri, H. lenticularis, H. macrocarpus
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 2: 904. (1753)
Web links