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Weed Identification

ashy sunflower



Scientific Name

Helianthus mollis

Other Common Names:

downy sunflower
hairy wild sunflower

Synonyms (former Scientific Names):

Helianthus mollis var. cordatus


Leaves are opposite, stiff, ascending, sessile and clasping with a rough-hairy grayish-green surface to 12 cm long and 8 cm wide. Leaf margins are entire to shallowly toothed with a pointed tip. Inflorescence consists of single flower heads positioned on terminal stems

Identifying Characteristics

Ashy sunflower is a native, warm-season; perennial forb typically found growing in well-drained soils and full sun. Stems are erect, solitary or clustered, densely pubescent gray, growing from rhizomes to 1.2 m tall

Flower Seed Head

Flowers exhibit 15-30 yellow petals (sterile ray florets), 2.5-3 cm long encompassing fertile yellow disk florets compressed to 2.5 cm in diameter. Each disk floret has a glabrous corolla tube to 6 mm long, and five stamens with whitish filaments and dark-brown anthers

Seed Fruit

Fruits are achenes that are wedge shaped, dark-brown or black, and tipped by two scales with pointed tips each enclosing a small single seed 3-6 mm in length.

Where Found

Ashy sunflower is found throughout the eastern half the United States, as far west as Nebraska and northward into Canada. It has not been reported in Florida, which may be the extent of its southern range

Life Cycle


Plant Type