by Eleanor Dietrich
There are 21 different kinds of sunflowers in Florida, and many of them have bright yellow flowers. This one, however, (Helianthus radula) only has the brown disk flowers, and not the yellow ray flowers, so it looks quite different from other sunflowers. It grows two to three feet tall on a leafless hairy stem; the leaves of the plant are on the ground in a rosette pattern that is very distinctive, even when the flower is not blooming. From a distance you may think the dark spots on the stalks are flowers that have finished blooming. However, if you look closely at the flower, you will see the yellow stamens poking out of the tubular disk flowers that make up the flower head. Once in a while you may see a yellow ray flower included, but not often. These flowers grow in a variety of habitats including open damp roadsides and also drier open pinelands.