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Heliopsis helianthoides - (L.) Sweet

Common Name False sunflower, Oxeye sunflower
Family Compositae
USDA hardiness 3-9
Known Hazards None Known
Habitats Open woods, woodland borders and clearings, thickets, grassy meadows, savannas, limestone glades, tallgrass prairies, blackland prairies, stream banks and disturbed roadsides or railroad rights of way.
Range Native to eastern and central North America from Saskatchewan east to Newfoundland and south as far as Texas, New Mexico, and Georgia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Heliopsis helianthoides False sunflower, Oxeye sunflower

Bokske wikimedia.org
Heliopsis helianthoides False sunflower, Oxeye sunflower
Bokske wikimedia.org


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Heliopsis helianthoides is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1.2 m (4ft in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4. The flowers are pollinated by Bees, Insects, Birds.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Acmella flavicaulis Raf. Acmella nudicaulis Raf. Acmella parvifolia Raf. Buphthalmum helianthoides L. H. helianthoides subsp. helianthoides. H. helianthoides var. helianthoides. H.helianthoides var. solidaginoides (L.) Fernald. H. oppositifolia (L.) Druce.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers
Edible Uses:

The flowers have a mild taste and can be used as a garnish or in a salad [318-1].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Febrifuge  Malaria

Ox-eye has been used in medicinal drinks, for treatment of lung troubles. The leaves have been used in a strong tea to reduce fevers and loosen phlegm. Stems have been used to treat malaria [318-1].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Other Uses

Soil stabilization

Possibly used for erosion control due to the fibrous deep roots. Insectory: The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract their fair share of insects, including long-tongued bees, Halictine bees, bee flies, butterflies, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus (Goldenrod Soldier Beetle), and other insects. Among the long-tongued bees, is the oligolege Holcopasites heliopsis (False Sunflower Bee). The caterpillars of Papaipoma rigida (Rigid Sunflower Borer Moth) sometimes bore through the stems[318-1]. Attracts birds and painted lady butterflies. Plant communities- Thickets Selected cultivars are shorter and attractive in a more formal garden. Smooth oxeye is considered one of the best hardy plants for a wildflower garden border [318-1].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

An upright clumping perennial wildflower with sunflower-like heads. It performs well in dry (xeric) locations, in poor to average soils, and in full sun to partial shade. Flowering can be extended by removing spent flowers. Staking may be necessary in shady locations[318-1]. USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 - 9. Soil pH: 6.0 - 8.0. Growth Rate: Moderate. Life Span: Short-Lived Perennial. Stand Persistence: Long. Form: Upright. Texture: Coarse. Sun: Full Sun, Partial Shade. Soil Type: Loamy, Silty, Clay. Soil Moisture: Moderate, Dry. Minimum Root Depth: 12 inches. Root Type: Tap, Stolon. Fungal Types: Endomycorrhizal. Seasonal Interest: Summer. Fruit Type: Achene. Flower Color: Yellow. Drought: Tolerant. Flood: Moderate. Salt: Moderate. Soil Compaction: Moderate. Mowing: Tolerant. Fire Damage: Tolerant. Cold Injury: Infrequent. Wind Storm Damage: Infrequent. Disease Issues: Minor. Insect/Pest Damage: Minor. Animal Damage: Deer, Gophers, Mice, Rabbits. Growing Season: Warm. Bloom Time: Early Summer - Late Summer. Fruit Time: Summer - Fall [318-1]. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a clumper with limited spread [1-2]. Several cultivars are available with flowers of varying colors and shades. These include 'Summer Sun', 'Golden Plume', and 'Prairie Sunset'. The following cultivars of H. helianthoides var. scabra ("rough") have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:'Benzinggold’,’Light of Loddon’,’Spitzentänzerin’,’Waterperry Gold’.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed, Cuttings, Division. Heliopsis helianthoides establishes readily from seed when planted in the winter/fall or early in spring (March to April). Germination generally starts four weeks after sowing if soil temperatures remain in the 60 – 70 degree Fahrenheit range. Seeds ripen approximately one month after flowering, however as with many Asters, plants are self sterile. It may be necessary to crack open a few seeds to make sure they are viable. Cuttings and Divisions: Five to seven node cuttings taken from the top 12 inches of growth in late spring root easily. Cuttings are sometimes reluctant to overwinter. Divide plants in the fall for best results [318-1].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Rough oxeye, smooth oxeye, false sunflower.

NORTHERN AMERICA: Canada, Québec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, United States, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, New Mexico, Texas,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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(L.) Sweet

Botanical References

Links / References

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