Maximilian sunflower

Helianthus maximiliani

Maximilian Sunflowers are allelopathic; they release chemicals that are harmful to neighboring plants. 7

By Clarissa, The International School at Mesa del Sol, 10th grade

Helianthus maximiliani is a North American species of sunflower known by the common name Maximilian sunflower.

The Maximilian Sunflower is Native to forty-one states, and is unreported in ten states: Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (3).

Maximilian Sunflowers are yellow and have oblong leaves and can grow to a height of two to eight feet tall; the species is normally found prairie areas, west of the Mississippi River (4). Maximilian Sunflowers are perennial flowers, and are found in rocky upland prairies, and usually bloom during autumn, from August to October. Maximilian Sunflowers thrive in habitats with generous space, and places with lots of runoff water. They prefer clay-like soils, and annual sunlight, and will not grow in shady areas. Maximilian Sunflowers are allelopathic; they produce chemicals that harm other plants, but do not cause harm to livestock and wildlife. (5)

The Maximilian Sunflower is often used for erosion control, the growth pattern of the plant allows it to spread and form plant clusters to reinforce the soil and prevent erosion. Native Americans have also used parts of the Maximilian Sunflower as sources of oil, food, thread, and dye. Settlers used to plant them near houses to ward off mosquitoes and put the blossoms in baths to soothe arthritis pain. They are mostly used for domestic gardens. The Maximilian Sunflower is consumed by beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, bees, birds and water fowl, rabbits and squirrels, groundhogs, elk, and humans.

3.) United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Database / No Date: https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=HEMA2
4.) John Hilty, Maximilian Sunflower, Illinois Wildflowers / No Date www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/mx_sunflowerx.htm
5.) USDA NRCS Plant Guide, Maximilian Sunflower, Helianthus Maximiliani / Last edited 6/23/04: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_hema2.pdf
6.) Personal conversation with Amanda of Jericho Plant Nursery on 3/27/19
7.) Personal conversation with Claire of Rehm’s Nursery and Garden Center 3/27/19

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) smwhite, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/1456982
  2. (c) CameliaTWU, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), https://www.flickr.com/photos/cameliatwu/11613142645/
  3. (c) chipmunk_1, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/42919152@N04/7994515280/
  4. (c) Matt Lavin, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/plant_diversity/5020916762/
  5. (c) Matt Lavin, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/plant_diversity/5020305833/
  6. (c) John Brandauer, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), https://www.flickr.com/photos/brandauer/37472162326/
  7. Adapted by smiller33 from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helianthus_maximiliani

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