A sunflower by the side of the road in Colorado.

Can you name this sunflower?

You might remember this sunflower from the production diary. It’s suddenly rather important that I know exactly what it is, for labelling purposes.

Trouble is, the closest I come to botany is chopping plants up and cooking them. I did once meet somebody whose rather fabulous job was to identify daisies, but as dates go it wasn’t the most successful so – tragically – I no longer have her number.

Oversharing aside: can anyone help me identify this plant? Most references I can find suggest Helianthus annuus is most likely, but the plants were quite low (50cm or so) and the flower heads proportionate (3-4 inches across). Helianthus maximiliani, perhaps?

Very widespread at the roadside, in this case in the San Luis Valley in Colorado, north of the San Juan mountain range. Comments welcome!

update: Twitter is on it, thanks mostly to @kejames. Suggestions so far:




update 2: We have an as-definitive-as-I’m-going-to-get answer. Wait for it…

Prairie Sunflower, Helianthus petiolaris

This comes from Luigi Guarino at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog and Prof. Loren Rieseberg of Indiana University, who’s quite the authority on Helianthus. Thanks for helping out, everyone. I bloody love Twitter.

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