Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Narrowleaf sunflower (also known as swamp sunflower) is one of Florida’s most common sunflowers. It occurs naturally in marshes, wet flatwoods, and roadside ditches throughout North and Central Florida. It is a short-lived perennial, and blooms primarily in October and November, although some flowering can occur in September and December. In nature, it tends to form dense colonies, resulting in spectacular swaths of sunshine yellow. Narrowleaf sunflower blooms attract bees and butterflies, while its seeds provide a tasty treat for birds.
Narrowleaf sunflower blooms are medium to large, with bright yellow, strap-shaped ray florets surrounding a compact head of reddish-brown disk florets. Flowerheads are cupped in green bracts. Stems are branched. Leaves are long, linear to acicular, and have a rough, sandpaper-like surface. They are alternately arranged.
Family: Asteraceae (Aster, daisy or composite family)
Native range: North and Central Florida
To see where natural populations of Narrowleaf sunflower have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Soil: Moist to wet, acidic soil
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 4-6’
Propagation: Seed, division
Garden tips: Narrowleaf sunflower is readily available commercially and is easy to maintain in home landscapes. It is most suitable as a buffer along wetlands or in other open wet sites. Because of its height, as well as its propensity to form large clusters, it is not recommended for small gardens or formal landscapes.
Narrowleaf sunflower seeds are available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative. Plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.