Schweinitz Sunflower Facts
- Most notably, the Schweinitz Sunflower is an extremely rare variety of sunflower that also possesses an extremely limited habitat range.
- Understandably, the United States Forest Service currently lists the plant as Endangered. As a result, however, the species has full protection by both local and federal law.
- Further, only 90 populations of the lovely sunflower currently exist, and these average fewer than 40 individual flowers each.
- This beautiful plant also bears the name of Lewis David von Schweinitz, who was a local clergyman and botanist (1780-1834).
- Finally, the greatest threats to its continued existence appear to be habitat loss and competition from invasive species.
Schweinitz Sunflower Physical Description
The gorgeous Schweinitz Sunflower ranks a member of the Aster family and a perennial species.
Its stems average an amazing 6.5 ft (2 m) in size, yet can occasionally attain heights of as much as 16 ft (4.8 m). Unlike most varieties of sunflower, however, the blooms remain relatively small in size.
Uniquely, the long stems actually display a deep purple color, which many consider extraordinary. The leaves grow thick and quite stiff and grow arranged in pairs, while their surface has a rough texture These also develop covered in numerous small spines.
The relatively small flowers show bright yellow in color. Each plant generally produces 3-6 of these flowers, which typically bloom for 2-3 weeks, beginning in August.
Species: H. schweinitzii
Schweinitz Sunflower Distribution and Habitat
The Schweinitz Sunflower grows endemically in a highly restricted and specific habitat range. Its only known habitat consists of the Piedmont region of North Carolina and South Carolina, in the United States.
It is thought that this sunflower was once numerous in forests and grasslands. Today, the majority of its populations occur along roadsides.
In addition, the surprising plant may also be found in the few remaining regions of Carolina prairie.
Amazingly, it prefers to inhabit areas of poor soil, such as regions with high clay content and thrives in either full or partial sunlight.
Given that the majority of its remaining numbers exist along roadsides, highway maintenance is actually another leading threat to its existence.