Family, Composite. Color of rays, bright yellow; disk, a purplish brown. Leaves, long, linear, entire, sessile, alternate on the stem above, opposite below, their edges rolled backward, noticeably when dry. A perennial growing from slender rootstocks. Heads of flowers in loose, irregular corymbs, on peduncles of varying lengths near the ends of branches. 2 to 7 feet high. Flowers, 2 to 3 inches across. August to October.
Narrow-Leaved Sunflower (Heliunthus angustifolius)
Color of both rays and disk, pale lemon yellow. A tall species reaching 12 feet in height. Usually about 4 feet. Common in leafy and shady, swampy roadsides and thickets from Maine to Florida. Stem, rough and of a purplish color. Leaves, undivided, lance-shaped, sessile, or a few with short petioles, mostly alternate, numerous, dark green. August to October. (See illustration, p. 229.)
Tall sunflower (Helianthus giganteus)
Color of both rays and disk, yellow. A lower species, from 2 to 6 feet high, perennial from rootstock. The in-volucral scales around the flowers are few, narrow, and unusually long. Leaves, opposite, widely spreading, lance-shaped or ovate, tapering to a sharp point, rough above, smooth underneath, toothed. Stem, smooth except near the top, where it is softly downy, slender. July to September.
From northern New York and New England to Florida and Louisiana. In dry woodlands, thickets, and open woods. These are among the flowers that help to round out the beauty of the autumn plant-life with rich, heavy, golden color, making us welcome that last of the flowering seasons as we do the spring. (See illustration, p. 231.)
Woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)
H. decapetalus. - Color of both rays and disk, yellow. Leaves, thin, sharply pointed, toothed, the lower opposite, with petioles; the upper generally alternate, softly downy or rough. Number of rays about 10, with some of the involucral bracts showing between. Blossom, not large. Stem, smooth, branching, 1 to 5 feet high. August and September.
In wet places, as banks of streams, moist copses, damp woods, from Quebec to Florida and westward. Most of the sunflowers are perennials. The tall garden sunflower, H. annuus, is an exception, being an annual. It is cultivated from seed, not only for its showy, big flowers, but because its seed is fed to chickens, parrots, and tame squirrels.