The plant may reach 3–12 feet (91–366 cm) in height and is found along streams, damp prairies and roadsides in the eastern and central parts of Canada and the United States, primarily in the northern Great Plains and Great Lakes Region, with additional populations as far as Maine, Georgia, and Texas. It prefers full sun and moist, fertile loamy soil with high organic content.
The lanceolate leaves are simple and alternate and may reach 4 to 12 inches (10–30 cm) long and from 1 to 4 inches (2–10 cm) wide. The leaves have large teeth along the edges (hence the name, sawtooth) to occasionally nearly entire and the tips are pointed.
The head (formally composite flower) is 3 to 4 inches (7–10 cm) wide with golden-yellow disk flowers that bloom in summer and autumn. The 10-20 yellow ray florets are about 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) long. The fruit is a single achene within a husk.
Native Americans used to treat burns with a poultice made from the flowers.
- "PLANTS Profile for Helianthus grosseserratus (sawtooth sunflower)". USDA PLANTS. plants.usda.gov. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- The Plant List, Helianthus grosseserratus M.Martens
- Wiersema, John H. "Helianthus grosseserratus information from NPGS/GRIN:". ars-grin.gov. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
- "Illinois Wildflowers, Sawtooth Sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus):". illinoiswildflowers.info. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- Flora of North America, Helianthus grosseserratus M. Martens, 1839. Sawtooth sunflower, hélianthe à grosses dents
- "Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses - Sawtooth sunflower:". kswildflower.org. Retrieved 2010-10-11.