Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
The ox-eye sunflower is an imposing plant, native to much of central North America, where it may be found in tall grass prairies and light woodlands. The wild species (Helianthus helianthoides) has green leaves and stems and light-yellow flowers.
This cultivar (selection) ‘Prairie Sunset,’ has dark-purple stems, maroon-veined leaves and orange-gold ray florets―the petal-like structures found on most members of Asteraceae, the daisy family―arranged around a darker, central disk.
It has a long blooming period and can be admired for the next the next several weeks in the planting bed just outside the Flower Garden fence, on the Hudson River side.