Helianthus annuus   Sunflower C DD I

Helianthus annuus

There were two plants of this North American introduction in a very small local field of mixed crops (carrots, potatoes and tomatoes) and the farmer insisted that he had neither planted these nor the "funny looking plant over there" (Datura stramonium of which there were about 20). It was such a fine specimen I didn't know whether to photograph this plant or enter it in the local flower show. A few days later the farmer weeded it out.

H. annuus has been grown as a crop about a mile away by a different farmer but the crop was not harvested. After it was ploughed in it's possible that birds may have carried seed from there.

I have seen this plant growing in the central reservation of the M5 motorway this year and assuming that no-one sneaks over the three carriageways to plant sunflowers this too must have been carried by birds. Perhaps with the warmer winters there is more viable seed accumulating from year to year. It is certainly the largest flower I have photographed naturalised in the "wild" and I can't think of anything which might be bigger except for certain large decorative dahlias (Daily Mail?) which nearly all die off in the first frost anyway.

H. annuus has successfully escaped into much of England and Wales particularly the southern counties and is even recorded from areas around Inverness. There is a little naturalised in Ireland too.

Helianthus annuus

Helianthus annuus Sunflower Crop

Field near Teuthill Farm, Helsby, Cheshire 28th September 2004

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Helianthus annuus

Field in Helsby, Cheshire 17th September 2006

Added on 27th September 2006, updated 5th February 2009, updated 6th April 2010

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