Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet

sunflower-everlasting

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Sunflower-everlasting is probably so-named because of its exceptionally long blooming period. This species can be distinguished from true sunflowers (Helianthus) in that the ray flowers (flowers at the outer edge of the flower head) have carpels, whereas in true sunflowers, the ray flowers are sterile, having neither carpels nor stamens.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Leaf type
leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Flower type in flower heads
the flower head has tubular disk flowers in the center and ray flowers, these often strap-shaped, around the periphery
Ray flower color
yellow
Tuft or plume on fruit
  • NA
  • there is no plume, or the plume is made up of scales, awns, a crown, or a rim
Spines on plant
the plant has no spines
Leaf blade length
80–150 mm
Disk flower number
  • 11-20
  • 21-50
  • 6-10
  • more than 50
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bract cycle number
    • there are three or more cycles of bracts
    • there are two main cycles of bracts
    Bract inner side hairs
    the bracts are not hairy on their inner surfaces
    Bract outer side hairs
    • the bracts are hairy on their outer surfaces
    • the bracts are not hairy on their outer surfaces
    Bract shape
    • the main bracts are oblong (roughly rectangular but rounded at the ends)
    • the main bracts are ovate (egg-shaped)
    Bract spines
    the bracts have no spines
    Bract texture
    • the bracts appear leathery or hardened
    • the bracts have a similar texture to a leaf
    Bract tip orientation
    the bracts are pressed against the plant, or spreading out at the tips
    Disk flower color
    • green to brown
    • yellow
    Disk flower lobe number
    5
    Disk flower number
    • 11-20
    • 21-50
    • 6-10
    • more than 50
    Disk flower reproductive parts
    the disk flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Disk flower shape
    the disk flower is tube-shaped (cylindrical), or gradually widening like a funnel
    Disk width
    10–25 mm
    Flower head number
    • each flowering stem has four or more flower heads on it
    • each flowering stem has only one to three flower heads on it
    Flower head outer flowers
    at the outer edge of the flower head, each flower has a single enlarged lobe or strap
    Flower head platform
    the base has papery scales on it
    Flower head position
    each of the flower heads is separate on its own peduncle (stalk), not clustered in groups
    Flower head profile
    • the disk is conical across the top
    • the disk is rounded across the top
    Flower head shape
    • the flower head is hemispherical (like the bottom half of a sphere)
    • the flower head is shaped like a cone with the point up
    Flower type in flower heads
    the flower head has tubular disk flowers in the center and ray flowers, these often strap-shaped, around the periphery
    Height of flower head base
    6–10 mm
    Inflorescence branching (Solidago)
    NA
    Inflorescence shape
    NA
    Number of bracts at flower head base
    12–20
    Ovary cross-section
    • the ovary has five or more corners in cross-section
    • the ovary is roughly square or with four corners
    Ovary hair type
    • the ovary has hairs on it, but the hairs have no glands
    • the ovary has no hairs on it
    Ovary hairs
    • the ovary has hairs on it
    • the ovary has no hairs on it
    Ovary profile
    in profile, the ovary is roughly egg-shaped, but widest above the middle
    Ovary surface
    the ovary surface has no points, bumps or wrinkles, though it may have lines, ribs or wings
    Peduncle hair type
    NA
    Peduncle hairs
    the peduncles have no hairs
    Peduncle length
    90–250 mm
    Ray flower color
    yellow
    Ray flower reproductive parts
    the ray flowers have carpels or stamens, but not both
    Ray flowers
    • 11-15
    • 16-25
    • 6-10
    Ray length
    15–40 mm
    Reproductive system
    some of the flowers on the plant have only carpels or stamens, while others have both carpels and stamens
    Style branch number
    the style has two branches
    Style branches
    NA
    Width of flower head base
    12–25 mm
  • Fruits or seeds
    Number of pappus parts
    • 0
    • 4
    Ovary length in developed fruit
    4–5 mm
    Seed hair tuft bases
    NA
    Seed hair tuft color
    NA
    Seed hair tuft details
    NA
    Seed hair tuft tips
    NA
    Seed hairs uniform
    NA
    Seed tuft scale number
    0–4
    Seed tuft type
    • the pappus is made of flat scales that are not split or frayed at the tips
    • there is no pappus on the ovary
    Tuft or plume on fruit
    • NA
    • there is no plume, or the plume is made up of scales, awns, a crown, or a rim
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant has one or more free-standing stems
    Plant lifespan
    the plant is perennial, it shows evidence of previous year's leaves, stems or stem bases
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    • the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf arrangement
    opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct petiole
    Leaf blade base shape
    • the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    • the base of the leaf blade is truncate (ends abruptly in a more or less straight line as though cut off)
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade has simple hairs with no glands, and not tangled or wooly
    Leaf blade length
    80–150 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is triangular, with the stalk or attachment point on one of the sides
    Leaf blade tip
    the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has three main veins running from the base towards the tip
    Leaf blade width
    40–120 mm
    Leaf disposition
    the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk length
    5–35 mm
    Leaf type
    leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem cross-section
    the flowering stem is circular, or with lots of small angles
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Stem internode hair type
    • the hairs on the stem are plain, without glands or branches, and not tangled
    • the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Stem internode hairs
    • the stem has hairs between the nodes
    • the stem has no hairs between the nodes

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. helianthoides

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. occidentalis

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Sometimes Confused With

Helianthus decapetalus:
ray flowers sterile, neutral, deciduous from the compressed cypsela, not becoming chartaceous in fruit (vs. H. helianthoides, with ray flowers fertile, carpellate, persistent on the triangular cypsela, becoming chartaceous).

Synonyms

  • Buphthalmum helianthoides L.
  • Buphthalmum helianthoides L.
  • Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet var. solidaginoides (L.) Fern.
  • Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet var. solidaginoides (L.) Fern.

Family

Asteraceae

Genus

Heliopsis

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Variety helianthoides is known from CT, MA, VT. Variety scabra is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, VT.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet E

sunflower-everlasting.  1a. Buphthalmum helianthoides L.; Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet var. solidaginoides (L.) Fern.;  1b. Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet ssp. occidentalis T.R. Fisher; H. helianthoides (L.) Sweet var. occidentalis (T.R. Fisher) Steyermark; H. helianthoides (L.) Sweet ssp. scabra (Dunal) T.R. Fisher; H. scabra Dunal • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT; also reported from RI by Kartesz (1999), but specimens are unknown. Fields, roadsides, dumps, disturbed soil.

1a.  Leaf blades thin, smooth on both surfaces or slightly scabrous adaxially, 4–8 (–12) cm wide; stem smooth, glaucous … 1a. H. helianthoides var. helianthoides

1b.  Leaf blades firm, harshly scabrous adaxially and somewhat scabrous abaxially, 2–5 cm wide; stem often scabrous, not glaucous … 1b. H. helianthoides var. scabra (Dunal) Fern.

Variety helianthoides is known from CT, MA, VT. Variety scabra is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, VT.