|Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota|
This sunflower is named for Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, who encountered it on his travels in North America.
Helianthus maximiliani is native to the Great Plains in central North America, and naturalized in the eastern and western parts of the continent. It is now found from British Columbia to Maine, south to the Carolinas, Chihuahua, and California. The plant thrives in a number of ecosystems, particularly across the plains in central Canada and the United States. It is also cultivated as an ornamental.
A branching perennial herb, growing from a stout rhizome and reaches heights from 50-300 cm (20-120 inches, or 1.7-10 feet). The slender, tall, erect stems and alternately-arranged leaves are covered in rough hairs.
The lance-shaped leaves are narrow, pointed, folded down the midvein, and up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) long on large plants.
The flower heads are surrounded at the base by pointed green phyllaries which often stick straight out and curl at the tips. The center is filled with yellow tipped brown disc florets and the circumference is lined with bright yellow ray florets 2 to 4 centimeters (0.4-1.2 inches ) long.
The thick rhizome is edible and provided a food similar to the Jerusalem artichoke for Native American groups such as the Sioux. The flower heads are attractive to insects and the fruits are eaten by birds.
The Land Institute, a perennial agriculture research center located in Salina, Kansas, run by Wes Jackson is experimenting with this species to create a perennial oilseed grain crop that does not necessitate replanting each season.
- The Plant List, Helianthus maximiliani Schrad.
- Flora of North America, Helianthus maximiliani Schrader, 1835. Maximilian sunflower , hélianthe de Maximilien
- Anthony W. Kahtz (17 April 2008). Perennials for Midwestern Gardens: Proven Plants for the Heartland. Timber Press. pp. 55–. ISBN 978-0-88192-893-8. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
- Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
- Jepson Manual Treatment
- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Profile
- United States Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service Ecology
- United States Geologic Survey, Northern Prairie Wildflowers
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, University of Texas, Photo gallery
- Land Institute
- Photo of herbarium specimen at Missouri Botanical Garden, collected in Missouri in 1951, neotype for Helianthus maximiliani neotype designated in Heiser, C. B. 1966. The North American sunflowers (Helianthus). Mem. Torrey Bot. Club 22(3): 154(157).
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