Native Plant of the Week: False Sunflower ~ Heliopsis helianthoides

False Sunflower ~ Heliopsis helianthoides (Smooth Oxeye)

False Sunflower is a native perennial of medium to dry sites. Often found where there's been a disturbance, such as along railways or roadsides. It can occur on the edges of woodlands, in thickets and prairies in full sun.

The large yellow flowers open in early July on 3 - 5 foot tall flower stalks. The oppositely arranged leaves are stalked and serrated.

According to Minnesota Wildflowers, the easiest way to identify this plant is by the long and short alternating bracts behind the flower.

This native makes a great addition to any perennial border, prairie or native garden in sandy-loam soils. Complementary natives include shorter prairie grasses such as Side Oats Grama, Butterfly Milkweed, Heath Aster, Wild Petunia, Spotted Beebalm, and Wild Bergamot.

It is a favorite of Aphids which can at times, cover the entire flower stalk. If you have a pesticide-free native garden that fosters beneficial insects such as Lady Bird Beetles, the Aphid population can be reduced significantly by predation. 

Soldier Beetles, Syrphid Flies, Bees and Butterflies all like to visit the fertile flowers.

A Northern Crescent pictured on the left enjoying the flower's offerings.

Also a Common Ringlet butterfly.

False Sunflower is native to eastern North America, see map below for range.
Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP).
North American Plant Atlas. Chapel Hill, N.C.