Sunflower, Maximillan

Botanical Name Helianthus maximiliani
Life Cycle Perennial
Environment Full Sun
Preferred Sites Upland/Grassland
Bloom Period August-September
Flower Color Yellow


This native perennial has a stout, rhizomatous root system. Flowering occurs in September and early October. Fruits are achenes that ripen in October and November and are wind or animal dispersed. The characteristic that distinguishes Maximilian sunflower from other Helianthus species is the grayish appearance given off by dense white hairs on the plant.

USES: Erosion Control: Maximilian sunflower has a perennial root crown and rhizomatous root system. Annual stems are produced from underground stems. This growth pattern allows Maximilian sunflower to spread and form dense plant clusters, reinforcing soil and percent erosion

Industrial products: The natural rubber present in Maximilian sunflower qualifies the plant as a potential source of industrial raw materials. Livestock: Although the protein value of Maximilian sunflower is poor, it is palatable livestock forage species. It remains green late into the fall and is consumed until the first frost makes it less flavorful. It is plentiful on ranges that are not closely grazed. Moderate grazing can increase the presence of Maximilian Sunflower.

ESTABLISHED: In early winter, rake Maximilian sunflower seeds into loose topsoil and cover with .25 to .5 inch of soil or mulch. A long cold period is required before germination. The average number of seeds per pound varies by location. Optimal seeding times are November to May in the central Great Plains and January to March in the southern Great Plains. Growth occurs in late spring and summer with some flowering by the end of the first season. Most Maximilian sunflower plants are not fully developed until the second season. Plants primarily spread by rhizomes after establishment.

MANAGEMENT: Maximilian sunflower plants growing on rich, fertile sites will grow tall and spindly. Weak stems will cause the plants to fall and can be staked to remain upright. Older stems can be mechanically cut back at the end of the season to make room for new sprouts. Maximilian sunflower exhibits fire tolerance in its dormant state. Seedlings will emerge on open, post-burned sites from the underground seedbank and rhizomes.

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