Scientific Name: Heliopsis helianthoides
A native perennial in Minnesota, most often found in full sunlight and dry to moderate soil conditions in prairies, roadsides, edges of fields and open woods. It is a vigorously growing plant, and considered a weed by some.
Watch for: Opposite leaves with coarsely serrated margins with leaf blades that vary in shape from oval to lance-shaped. The stem is smooth and flowers have an orange-yellow center disk with yellow ray flowers. The plant grows to about 3-4′ tall.
Other names: Early sunflower, Smooth oxeye, False sunflower, Oxeye daisy
History: Heliopsis comes from the Greek word helios, for “sun,” and opsis, for “appearance.” In the past, the Oxeye sunflower was used in folk medicine to cure fevers and malaria.
Tidbits: The Oxeye sunflower starts blooming in July or August and continues for up to two months. It is one of the earliest blooming sunflowers. Heliopsis helianthoides provides food for songbirds throughout the winter and its nectar serves as a food source for ground nesting bees, as well as butterflies and hummingbirds.
Gardens/Cultivation: Oxeye sunflower is one of the best hardy plants for a wildflower or raingarden border. It will survive in dry locations with little nutrients and in full sun to partial shade. It will establish easily from seed when planted in the late fall or early spring. The plant will grow in clumps of 2-4′ in diameter and they should be divided in the fall for best results.
USDA Plants Database: http://plants.usda.gov
The University of Texas at Austin. Native Plant Database. http://www.wildflower.org/plants