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For Your Garden - May 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.

ox-eye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)

Although named ox-eye “sunflower,” this perennial herb is not a true sunflower. It is a member of the aster family, though, along with the true sunflowers. Ox-eye sunflower grows statewide in thickets, open woods and prairies. The plant has short, arrowhead‐shaped, toothed leaves arranged in pairs on the smooth stem. Some of these plants have smooth leaves while others have rough leaves. Flowers are produced from June through October. A single flower head is produced at the stem tip. Both yellow ray flowers and disk flowers are present in the flower head. Ox-eye sunflower may attain a height of two to five feet. Its flat flower heads attract many pollinators.

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