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Woodland Sunflower

Common Name: Woodland Sunflower.

Scientific Name: Helianthus Divaricatus.

What to look for?  Lovely yellow flowers – “sunflowers”! Woodland Sunflower flowers are large with up to 20 yellow rays or petals and a darker yellow center disk. Leaves are green and usually with a long taper to a pointed tip. This perennial wildflower is tall with a central, light green stem that becomes branched where the flowerheads occur. After the summer blooming period, the disk florets are replaced by achenes, or seeded fruits. And with a long-rhizomatous root system, you will find colonies of Woodland Sunflowers scattered around our ponds.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? In spring, you can find Woodland Sunflowers green stems erupting around the upper banks along Carillon Stonegate Ponds and the fields adjacent to the woodlands. In summer, you can find the Woodland Sunflower’s yellow flowers in full bloom!

How big are they? Woodland Sunflowers are approximately two to five feet tall. The leaves are two to six inches long and one-half to two inches across. Each flowerhead is about one and one-half to three inches across.

Where do they grow and thrive? The native Woodland Sunflower is common across the eastern U.S. and most of Illinois. Habitats include woodlands, woodlands, thinly wooded bluffs, savannas, woodland borders, thickets, limestone glades, and prairies. While this sunflower is normally found in relatively dry upland habitats, sometimes it also occurs in moist sandy habitats.

When do they bloom? The blooming period occurs from mid-summer into early fall (July into September).

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The nectar and pollen of the Woodland Sunflower attract a wide variety of insects, including bees, various wasps, variety of flies, butterflies and skippers.

Interesting Facts About the Woodland Sunflower:

  • Genus name comes from the Greek words “helios” meaning sun and “Anthos” meaning flower.

  • Occasional wildfires tend to increase populations of Woodland Sunflower as this reduces competition from woody vegetation.

  • White-Tailed Deer occasionally chomps off the stems and upper leaves of mature plants.

For more information on the Woodland Sunflower and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Missouri Botanical Gardens, and University of Texas Wildflower Center.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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