For Your Garden - May 2017

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

ox-eye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)
Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Although named ox-eye “sunflower,” this perennial herb is not a true sunflower. It is a member of the aster family, though, along with the true sunflowers. Ox-eye sunflower grows statewide in thickets, open woods and prairies. The plant has short, arrowhead‐shaped, toothed leaves arranged in pairs on the smooth stem. Some of these plants have smooth leaves while others have rough leaves. Flowers are produced from June through October. A single flower head is produced at the stem tip. Both yellow ray flowers and disk flowers are present in the flower head. Ox-eye sunflower may attain a height of two to five feet. Its flat flower heads attract many pollinators.
Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

 Illinois Range

 Native Plant Information

For more information about native Illinois plants, including where to purchase them and planting guides, view the following publications at our publications page. You can access more information on the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant page, too.