A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

Plant of the Week: Helianthus porteri (Porter’s Sunflower)

Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.

When we see the jaunty yellow blooms of this diminutive member of the sunflower tribe, we know that autumn has arrived. It is an annual plant and drops its seeds after flowering in late fall. These seeds germinate early the following spring, but the seedlings grow very little for most of the summer, probably as a way of avoiding the need for water during the drier months. They put on a spurt of growth in the few weeks leading up to their bloom time in late September.mid-range

Known as Porter’s sunflower, Confederate daisy or the Stone Mountain daisy, it is native to the Southeast of the US and is found in the wild in mountainous, rocky places, including Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, Georgia.close-up

There is some disagreement among botanists regarding the scientific name. Most now agree that it is a sunflower (Helianthus) but some still refer to it as Viguiera porteri.

As can be seen in our Wild Garden, it demonstrates its fondness for stone by establishing itself along the edges of the gravel paths.setting

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