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Southwest Adventure, Living & Travel


Sunflower

Helianthus annuus

Helianthus annuus, Photo by Lara Hartley

Color: Yellow to gold

Common name: Sunflower, Common Sunflower

Latin name: Helianthus annuus

Family: ASTERACEAE

Height: <10 feet

Description: What is usually called the "flower" on a mature sunflower is actually a "flower head" (also known as a "composite flower") of numerous florets, (small flowers) crowded together. The outer petal-bearing florets are the sterile ray florets and can be yellow, red, orange, or other colors. The florets inside the circular head are called disc florets, which mature into seeds. The sunflower got its name from its huge, fiery blooms, whose shape and image is often used to depict the sun. It has a rough, hairy stem supporting the head which consists of 1,000-2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base.

Leaf: The leaf is broad, coarsely toothed, and rough.

Range: Desert Mountains, Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert, California

Habitat: Disturbed areas, scrub, many other habitats

Elevation: < 1900 m.

Flowering time: Jul–Oct

Notes: Helianthus comes from the Greek helios meaning sun and anthos meaning flower. Annus means annual referring to the fact the plant only lives one season.

Horticulture: Given full or nearly full sun (tolerates summer afternoon sun), grows especially well in zones 6 and 17 and also in zones 2, 3, 4, and 5. Given moderate summer watering, and full or nearly full sun (tolerates summer afternoon sun), grows in zones 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24.

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...

What's Blooming Now - Check the Wildflower Reports


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Past Wildflower Season Videos
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2009 Wildflower Video

2006 Wildflower Season -
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2005 Wildflower Season -
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Mojave Desert Wildflowers Book
200 color photos

Wildflower Field Guide - find flowers by color

Purple & Blue Flowers

Pink, Red, & Orange Flowers

Yellow & Gold Flowers

White Flowers | Guide

wildflower seeds

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