May. 10, 2022

hairy sunflower, Helianthus hirsutus

Hairy sunflower is more rough than hairy. This is not a typical flower head of this species. Normally there would be a larger center, surrounded by many more rays. This patch was growing in deep woods in more shade than places where you would usually see hairy sunflowers. The next time I walked that path, all the stems had been gobbled to the ground, probably by deer. The time after that, they were gone. Actually, every patch of this species that I've found in this county more than a decade ago is gone. While herbivores are a factor, invasive shrubs like Amur honeysuckle and autumn olive are the real culprits. If you visit any of those former sites, you will find walls of invasive shrubs. At this time of year we fret about the invaders impact on our spring ephemerals. But the problem goes far beyond that. Hairy sunflowers are near their northern limit here in southern Michigan, and were uncommon even before the invasion. They are also in AL, AR, CT, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, WV, and ON. Onsted Game Area, Lenawee Co MI, 7/25/13. Aster family, Asteraceae.