Wildflowers: A visit to my yard - VI

Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

(March to December)

This sunflower is the most common and abundant sunflower in the state of Texas. Hence, it is appropriately named. The plant is about six feet tall. It appears to be in a symbiotic relationship with ants, who walk up and down the the stalks to visit the flowers. The plant grows in the most remote part of the backyard. Indians used the it for medicine, fiber, and cordage. The seeds are eaten by birds.


Bitterweed (Helenium amarum)

(April to December)

One of the last flowers to appear in the yard, it continues to bloom until there is a killing frost. Crumpling a leaf will produce a bitter odor. Although cows generally don't eat the plant, it is said to cause milk to taste bitter when they do. It is also claimed that honey from bees who visit the flower is bitter and unusable. If you don't have cows or bees, the plant should cause no problem. It is related to Basin Sneezeweed (Helenium badium) and Fringed Sneezeweed (Helenium drummondii).

ECH - April 19, 1998
Texas Wildflowers
National Wildflower Research Center
Texas Society for Ecological Restoration
Natural Area Preservation Association
Texas Wildscapes
Sally Wasowski's Page
Center for Environmental Philosophy