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Sawtooth Sunflower


Common Name: Sawtooth Sunflower

Latin Name: Helianthus grosseserratus

[Pronounced: "hee-lee-ANTH-us gross-ess-er-ATE-us"]

Type of Plant: Perennial Forb

Identification Helps: This tall sunflower (to 6 ft or more) has typical flowers as shown.

Leaves can have sawtooth-like edges, or sometimes more entire (smooth). The leaves attach to the stem with a short but distinctive petiole. The stems tend to be smooth and covered with a whitish bloom, as shown.

Preferred Growing Conditions in the Wild: Sawtooth sunflower commonly grows

\in disturbed prairie areas, where soil has been turned over or disrupted.

Preferred Soils: It grows in all prairie soils, except those that are extremely dry (sands)

or extremely wet for extended periods.

Seasons of Growth and Bloom: Blooms profusely in August and September.

Natural Distribution in Ohio: Found in all major Ohio prairies, seldom or never

outside of native prairies.

Description and General Information: There are two tall prairie sunflowers in Ohio, this one, Sawtooth Sunflower, and a very closely related species, Tall Sunflower, Helianthus giganteus. Both species are found in disturbed prairie soils, although they can be long-lived. H. giganteus is more common in Ohio prairies, and differs with closely-attached leaves that have short or absent petioles. Tall Sunflower stems also tend to be rough and lack the whitish bloom. Many specimens, however, share distinctive traits, and are probably hybrids.

Both of these sunflower species grow naturally only in areas that were once prairie. When discovered, they reveal that the local site was almost always an original prairie. These sunflowers grow easily and without care in restored prairies and prairie gardens. On such sites (as well as on existing prairies) the species attract nectaring butterflies and other insects when in flower. Later, the flowers attract goldfinches and other seed-eating birds.