Helianthus annuus L.

 

 

Common sunflower

 

The common sunflower can seem anything but common when the flowers, with their signature yellow ray-like petals radiating around a central maroon disk, are seen in large numbers in a field. These beauties and the Black-eyed Susan are the most common flowers in our country, in the estimation of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (wildflower.org).

Indigenous people ground the seeds for flour and used the plant’s oil for cooking and dressing hair. We still eat sunflowers to this day. Indigenous people also used yellow dye from the flowers and blue/black dye made from the seeds in basketry. Indigenous people used a tea made from the flowers for lung ailments and malaria. A tea made from the plant’s leaves was used to treat high fevers. A poultice was used on snake and spider bites. In the 19th century, it was believed that sunflowers growing near a home would protect it from malaria.

Then and now, the common sunflower provides sustenance for many native bees.

This member of the aster family (Asteraceae) blooms from July to October.

 

(Information and photo source: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Joseph A. Marcus, photographer.