Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Variableleaf Sunflower - Helianthus heterophyllus   Nuttall
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Helianthus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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AuthorNuttall
DistributionSouthern half of the Outer Coastal Plain; scarce in the northern portion, north to Martin County.

Coastal Plain, NC to northern FL and southeastern LA.
AbundanceCan be fairly common in well-managed savannas, but uncommon as a whole in the southeastern Coastal Plain. Rare north of southern Craven County (i.e., Croatan National Forest). Until recently, it was on the NCNHP's Watch List.
HabitatLongleaf Pine-Wiregrass savannas and flatwoods, margins of pocosins, pitcher-plant seepages.
See also Habitat Account for Wet, Sandy, Fire-maintained Herblands
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting August-October.
IdentificationWith its well-developed basal leaves and small, sparse stem leaves, this sunflower looks "scapose" (leafless stem). Heads are few (1-3, maximum of 5) with yellow rays and red-purple or brownish disks. Some plants of Purpledisk Sunflower (H. atrorubens) may look similar, but it is a taller plant (2-5 or 6 feet tall vs. a maximum of 3 feet) and lower leaves are toothed on the margins (vs. smooth or nearly so). This is a characteristic sunflower of well-managed (with fire) pine savannas.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Savanna Sunflower
State RankS3
Global RankG4
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