The Heliopsis Persoon genus and
Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra
The words or terms in red
(actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a
The Heliopsis Persoon genus
Plants of the Heliopsis
genus are usually
perennials but some are
Their leaves are
Their margins have teeth.
The flower head have
persistent phyllaries in 2 to 3 series.
The have both yellow to orange ray florets
and yellow or brown to purple disc florets .
Their chromosome number (2n) is
There are about 20 species in the genus; they
are found in North America, Mexico, Central America and South America, down to
Bolivia; most species are known only from Mexico.
Three species are found in North America, one, Heliopsis helianthoides,
with 2 varieties, helianthoides and
scabra; the later is the species found in Québec.
The genus belongs to the
Heliopsis helianthoides (Linnaeus) Sweet var. scabra
is a native perennial
that grows from a creeping rhizomes
to about one meter or more in height, branching occasionally and becoming
rather bushy in open situations.
In Greek ηλιοσ
is the sun and οψισ
means appearance, so that the
genus name means like the sun and refers the the flower heads.
In Greek, ειδοσ
(eidos) means external aspect and Helianthus is the
scientific name of the Sunflower so that the
epithet means like the Sunflower,
so that Heliopsis helianthoides means like the sun
like the Sunflower.
As for Helianthus it is also from the Greek
(anthos) that means flower,
i.e. Helianthus is a sunlike flower so that
Heliopsis helianthoides is a fact a flower like the sun in the shape
of a flower like the sun, so that some botanists like tautologies.
(As far as the Heliopsis helianthoides var. helianthoides is
concerned, it is then a tautological tautology.)
In Latin the feminine adjective scabra means rough, so that the
name for the variety refers to the leaves that are a bit rough to the touch.
Some of the vernacular names of
Heliopsis helianthoides are Ox-eye, Sweet Oxeye, Smooth Oxeye,
False Sunflower and Rough weliopsis.
Two French vernacular names are
Héliopside scabre and Héliopside faux-hélianthe.
Heliopsis helianthoides has also been known as:
- Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet ssp. occidentalis
T. R. Fisher
- Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet ssp. scabra (Dunal)
T. R. Fisher
- Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet var. occidentalis
(T. R. Fisher) Steyerm.
- Heliopsis laevis Pers. var. scabra (Dunal) Torr. & A. Gray
- Heliopsis minor (Hook.) C. Mohr
- Heliopsis scabra Dunal
Heliopsis helianthoides is easy to identify by its large size,
its large golden yellow flower heads, and its long blooming period.
Heliopsis helianthoides var. helianthoides
(up to now  not found in Québec) has
ovate leaves that are usually larger that
those of Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra, the later being
furthermore deltate to narrowly
Furthermore the scabra variety has moderately to densely
scabrous leaves, while the
helianthoides variety has its abaxial
faces glabrous or sparsely
pubescent and its
adaxial faces glabrous or minutely
Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra could however easily be
confused with Heliopsis helianthoides var. helianthoides at least
where both can be found; furthermore intermediates occur between var.
helianthoides and var. scabra. Usually, var. helianthoides
has longer petioles, has smaller flower heads
on shorter peduncles, and occupies less-open
habitats than var. scabra.
Heliopsis helianthoides flowers closely resemble those of Helianthus
annuus (the Sunflower). They can be distinguished by their
ray florets; those of Heliopsis
helianthoides have pistils, but those on
Helianthus annuus are sterile, as they have neither pistils nor
- Up to 1.5m tall, branching, herbaceous, erect.
- Pubescent, rough to the touch.
- With a petiole up to 3 cm long.
- With a blade up to 11 cm long
and 6 cm wide.
- Ovate to
- With serrate margins;
- Scabrous and deep dull green above,
lighter green below.
- Inflorescence with single
flower heads, about 2 inches across, terminating the stems.
- With a long peduncle
up to 20 cm long.
- With usually 2 series of phyllaries.
- With 10 to 20 golden yellow fertile
ray florets that are about
between 2 and 4 cm long and between 1/2 to 1 cm wide.
- With about 10 to 80 yellowish
disk florets about
4 mm in diameter.
- Blooming from July to September in may area,
25 km north of Montréal.
- A reddish-purple to brown achene.
- Without a pappus.
Heliopsis helianthoides is found in dry waste areas, roadsides,
open woods, and edges of fields and thickets.
The map show the distribution of
Heliopsis helianthoides for the USA and Canada.
Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra as a more restricted range;
in Canada it is found in Ontario and Québec; in the US it is found in
New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, New Mexico and Texas.
The Chippewa used a decoction of dried root or chewed fresh root to spit on
limbs as as stimulant. The Meskwaki used the roots to treat lung troubles.
Heliopsis helianthoides is often grown in flower gardens, and sometimes
escapes to neighboring waste areas. It has many
cultivars, Light of Loddon, Ballerina,
Summer Sun, etc. It is a prime source of food for songbirds in winter.
The photos of the gallery were taken either with one of the following:
Minolta DiMAGE 7,
Canon PowerShot A530,
Canon Xt Rebel, usually with the EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM objective,
Fujifilm A 610 and
EPSON Perfection 1650 (scanner).
The title in the window shows the date when the picture was taken,
i.e. jan_30_06... would mean that the photo was taken on the 30th of
January, the 06 is for the 6th picture taken that day.
The month, day and picture number might be followed by a letter which I use
to identify the system used to take the picture.
Click on the thumbnails to get larger view.
The original photos are usually in TIFF format,
the photos shown are generally in JPEG format,
often of dimensions one half (surface one quarter)
for loading time reduction.
The leaves were scanned at 300 dpi,
and the dimensions of the resulting picture divided by 2 (area divided by 4);
this allows to measure the dimensions of the leaves.