East coast dune sunflower
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Dune (or beach) sunflower is a sprawling, herbaceous groundcover that produces many yellow, daisy-like flowers. Its leaves are deltoid-shaped, with rough surfaces and toothed margins; they are alternately arranged. Blooms consist of brownish-red disk florets surrounded by bright yellow ray florets.
Dune sunflower typically flowers in the summer, but may flower year-round in South Florida. Its flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including butterflies, moths and bees. Its dense growth pattern provides cover for many small animals, while its seeds are eaten by birds.
The genus name Helianthus comes from the Latin heli (sun) and anthus (flower). There are 17 species of Helianthus native to Florida.
Family: Asteraceae (Aster, daisy or composite famiily)
Native range: H. debilis is native only to the counties along the east coast. However, there are two subspecies: cucumberleaf dune sunflower (H. debilis subsp. cucumerifolius), which is native to scattered counties throughout the Panhandle and a few peninsular counties; and west coast dune sunflower (H. debilis subsp. vestitus), which is endemic only to Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties. (See caution below.)
To see where natural populations of dune sunflower have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu (east coast dune sunflower), florida.plantatlas.usf.edu (cucumber leaf dune sunflower) and florida.plantatlas.usf.edu (west coast dune sunflower).
Soil: Well-drained sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun
Growth habit: 1-2’ tall with 3-4’ spread
Propagation: Seed, cuttings
Garden tips: Dune sunflower is a prolific self-seeder, and has a tendency to spread quickly if not maintained. Periodic removal of spent plants is recommended.
Caution: All species/subspecies are capable of hybridizing and should not be planted together. When using in a landscape or garden setting, It is recommended that the subspecies native to/appropriate for the region be used.