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Helianthus annuus L.

Family Name: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Synonyms: Helianthus annuus var. lenticularis (Douglas ex Lindl.) Steyerm., Helianthus annuus f. lenticularis (Douglas ex Lindl.) B.Boivin, Helianthus annuus subsp. lenticularis (Douglas ex Lindl.) Cockerell, Helianthus annuus lenticularis (Douglas ex Lindl.) Cockerell, Helianthus annuus var. macrocarpus (DC.) Cockerell
Common Name: Common Sunflower, Bunga Matahari, 向日葵, 太阳花

Helianthus annuus or Common Sunflower is an annual herb that can reach up to 3 m in height. Leaves are ovate to heart-shaped, covered in coarse hairs. The single large yellow flower is known as a Capitate inflorscence made up of yellow ray and disk florets. The popular annual is used in various dishes, cut flower displays or planted along the borders of flowerbeds. The common sunflower are long-cultivated to produce a variety of ornamental cutivars from dwarf varieties to variegated flowers.

Full Sun Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Plant Butterfly-Attracting Plant Butterfly Host Plant Fruit or Vegetable Herb or Spice Ornamental Flowers Annual Herbaceous Plant


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Annual
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Tiered
Maximum Height 3 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 0.3 m to 0.6 m


Native Distribution United States and Central America
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Exotic

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a stout mostly single-stemmed annual. The life ranges between 2 to 6 months, that can grow to 3 m tall. The height of the plant varies with the cutlivars.
Foliage Its foliage varies from ovate, obovate to heart-shaped, arranged alternately along the robust green stem. The leaves are coarsely-hairy with serrated (toothed) margins, measuring at 10 – 40 by 5 – 40 cm.
Flowers Its flowers are produced in a large terminal composite heads of up to 30 cm wide, consisting of sterile, yellow ray florets ("petals") and central disc florets, pleasantly scented, attractive to bees, butterflies and beetles.
Fruits Its fruits are 1-seeded achenes (sunflower seeds) from pollinated disc florets, eaten by birds and humans.
Habitat It occurs in dry plains, prairies, meadows and foothills in the western U.S., Canada and northern Mexico
Cultivation It grows easily in average, moist, well-drained soils under full sun conditions (6 - 8 hours of sunlight). They are tolerant to poor soils that are on the dry side. For taller individuals, sheltered them from the wind, or provide support to keep the plant upright. Seeds can be collected from mature flower heads and dried for future use, although seedlings of cultivars may not come true.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Helianthus' comes from Greek words 'helios' (sun) and 'anthos' (flower), describing how non-flowering specimens often turn to face into the sun. Species epithet 'annuus' refers to the "annual", short-lived growth cycle of plant.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Flowers, Edible Seeds)
Food (Herb and Spice;Fruit & Vegetable)
[Others]: Seeds roasted and eaten as snacks or added into food. Also processed into oils, margarines, livestock feed or bird seed. Used by Native Americans to make flour and cakes. Ray florets can be used as garnish in salads or make yellow dyes. 2-leafed tender seedings can be eaten raw as snack, with nutty flavour resembling sunflower seeds. Flowers used as poultice to treat burns. Chewed roots applied to relieve swelling from snake and spider bites. Flowers made into tea by Native Americans for lung ailments and malaria, Leaves drunk as tea to treat high fevers. In 19th century America, sunflowers were planted near homes as "protection" from malaria. Large flower heads commonly used in bouquets and floral arrangements.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping Well-known garden plant. Use in borders or plant close together to make a temporary screen. Dwarf cultivars (less than 1m height) may be used in containers.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Moist Soils
Landscape Uses General, Flowerbed / Border, Hedge / Screening, Focal Plant
Thematic Landscaping Golden Garden, Naturalistic Garden, Wildflower Garden
SGMP Treatment
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Leaves may cause contact allergies in sensitive individuals.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting (Seeds), Butterfly Food Plant (Flower Nectar), Caterpillar Food Plant (Leaves)
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Hairy / Hirsute, Rough, Scaly, Raised / Sunken Veins
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Obovate, Cordate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Dentate, Serrate / Toothed
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Cordate, Truncate / Square
Typical Foliar Area Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 ), Macrophyll ( 182.25cm2 - 1640.25 cm2 )

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Tap Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Brown, Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Ligulate / Strap-shaped
Flower Size - Remarks 15-35 cm across
Inflorescence Type Head / Capitulum
Flower Lifespan on Plant Several Days
Flowering Habit Monocarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Black, White
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Smooth
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Indehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Achene
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Few (1-5)



Missouri Botanical Garden (continuously updated), Helianthus annuus - Plant Finder. Accessed 11 January 2022.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension (continuously updated), Helianthus annuus (Common Sunflower, Sunflower, Wild Sunflower) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox Accessed 12 January 2022.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (continuously updated). Plants of the World Online | Kew Science. Accessed 11 January 2022.

Image Repository



Master ID 770
Species ID 2065
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 12 January 2022.