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Desert Sunflower Geraea canescens


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Desert Sunflower
credit: Stan Shebs/CCSA

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Alternate name: Hairy Desert Sunflower

Family: Asteraceae, Aster view all from this family

Description Native herbaceous annual.
Habit: slender, hairy stems hold cheerful yellow flowers high above foliage; clumping.
Height: 1-3 ft (30-100 cm).
Leaf: gray-green, hairy, oval or pointed; may be toothed; 1/2-4 in (1-10 cm); concentrated at the base; none or few on upper stem.
Flower: daisy-like, terminal, golden-yellow, 2 in (5 cm) wide; 10-21 overlapping rays, yellow to pale orange, oval to oblong, ribbed, may be irregularly toothed at tip; around a shaggy disk, yellow to red-orange; with fuzzy white bracts. Flowerheads held in loose groups at end of many-branched stems.

Flower October to May, depending on location.

Habitat Native to the California, Mojave, and Sonoran Deserts: sandy, barren, flat deserts and creosote scrub; now cultivated as an ornamental.

Range Se. California to sw. Utah; south to w. Arizona and nw. Mexico; to 4250 ft (1300 m).

Discussion Also known as: desert-gold, hairy desertsunflower. Gerea comes from the Greek geraios ("old man"), referring to the white hairs on the fruits. After adequate rain, these plants may line mile after mile along hot, dry, desolate roadsides.