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For Your Garden - April 2017

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

western sunflower (Helianthus occidentalis)

Western sunflower is a perennial herb with leaves arranged opposite each other on the stem. This plant may attain a height of one to three feet. Most of the large, rough, hairy leaves are found at the base of the plant. The stems are long and often red. The oval-shaped leaves may be toothed. Yellow flower heads develop on long stalks from July through October. Both disk (fertile) and ray (sterile) flowers are present. The one-seeded fruit is dry and hard. Western sunflower grows statewide in dry prairies and areas of sandy soil but is more common in the northern two-thirds of Illinois. Insects are the main agent of pollination.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


​Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae

Illinois Status: common, native