Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet - Ox-Eye

Heliopsis helianthoides plant

Family - Asteraceae

Stems - To 1.5m tall, branching, herbaceous, erect (reclining with age), with scattered appressed antrorse pubescence but pubescence mostly in two opposing vertical lines, scabrous, from caudex.

Leaves - Opposite, petiolate. Petiole to 3cm long, dense antrorse pubescent. Blade to +/-11cm long, +/-6cm broad, ovate to lanceolate, acute to acuminate, serrate, scabrous and deep dull green above, pubescent below.

Heliopsis helianthoides leaves

Inflorescence - Single flower heads terminating stems. Peduncles long, to +20cm, expanded and hollow just below involucre.

Involucre - +/-7mm tall, 12mm in diameter, cylindric. Phyllaries in 2(3) series. Outer phyllaries longer, to 1.4cm long, 3mm broad, slightly expanded at base, densely appressed pubescent, often recurved. Inner phyllaries broader but shorter than outer phyllaries, densely appressed pubescent, reduced inward.

Heliopsis helianthoides involucreInvolucre.

Ray flowers - Typically fertile, 10-16 in number. Ligule yellow to yellow-orange, to +/-3cm long, oblong-elliptic, notched at apex(2-3). Achene reddish-purple, 3-angled, sparse pubescent, +3mm long in flower. Pappus absent.

Disk flowers - Disk to 1.5cm broad. Flowers fertile. Corolla orange, 5-lobed. Corolla tube to 5mm long. Achenes smaller than in ray flowers but otherwise similar. Pappus absent. Receptacle conic. Chaff to 6mm long, folded around flowers.

Heliopsis helianthoides flowers

Heliopsis helianthoides flowers closeDisk close-up.

Flowering - May - October.

Habitat - Rocky open woods, thickets, prairies, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species is found throughout Missouri and is quite common. The plant is easy to identify because of its orangish ray and disk flowers and its conical disk. H. helianthoides has a longer blooming period than probably any other aster in Missouri and should be cultivated more.
Steyermark lists two varieties of the plant based on leaf and disk size but these integrade and may not be valid, so I won't mention them here.

Photographs taken at Logan Creek, Reynolds County, MO., 5-23-03 and 7-6-03.


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