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Silverleaf Sunflower (Helianthus argophyllus) Asteraceae - click for a wallpaper!

Silverleaf Sunflower

Helianthus argophyllus J. Torrey & A. Gray

Asteraceae : Heliantheae

This gorgeous endemic plant grows in deep sandy soils near and on the beach. It can even tolerate some salty spray. The young leaves are covered with a long, soft white hair that makes the young plants very attractive. Scientists have harvested genes from this hardy Texas native plant to make commercially grown sunflowers stronger. The seeds of this native are smaller than those of the commercial sunflower, but are still edible for humans as well as birds. Seed-eating birds relish them. Silverleaf sunflower hybrizes naturally with the Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and possibly Helianthus debilis as well.

Health/Medicinal :

Silverleaf sunflower has the same medicinal properties/uses as the common sunflower; the seeds are just smaller.

The seed oil of the sunflower has been used in the past as a diuretic, an expectorant and for treating catarrhal conditions. (Dosage is 10-15 drops of the oil 2-3 times a day.)

Grieve gives this recipe for the medicinal use of sunflower seed oil:

"Boil 2 oz. of the seeds in 1 qt. of water, down to 12 oz. then strain. Add 6 oz. of good Holland gin and 6 oz. sugar. Give in doses of 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls, three or four times a day."

Edibility :

The seeds of the Silverleaf Sunflower are rich in oil, though just not as large as the cultivated sunflower's.

  • The young flower heads (before opening) can be boiled and served as artichokes.
  • The roasted seeds can be used as a coffee-like drink or ground to make a meal (heavy flour).

Behind the Name :

Helianthus is a North American genus of about 50 species.


Helianthus -
From the Greek "helios" (sun) and "anthos" (flower); referring to how the flowers follow the sun's path through the sky

argophyllus -
From the Greek "argo" (white/silver) and "phyllus" (leaves); referring to the silver leaves

Wildlife :

The Silverleaf sunflower is rich in nectar, so bees and butterflies love it. It is also used by a few butterfly species as a larval food.


  • Bordered Patch - larval food
  • Silvery Checkerspot - larval food

Photo Gallery (click the pictures to see them bigger) :

Whole plant of Silverleaf Sunflower (Helianthus argophyllus) Asteraceae
young plant
Leaf detail of Silverleaf Sunflower (Helianthus argophyllus) Asteraceae
leaf detail
Whole plant of Silverleaf Sunflower (Helianthus argophyllus) Asteraceae
whole plant (with flowers)

Wallpaper Gallery (right-click the thumbnail and choose "Save Target As...") :

Wallpaper - Silverleaf Sunflower (Helianthus argophyllus) Asteraceae in habitat
whole plant with habitat (220k)
Wallpaper - Flower detail of Silverleaf Sunflower (Helianthus argophyllus) Asteraceae
flower detail (207k)
Wallpaper - Silverleaf Sunflower (Helianthus argophyllus) Asteraceae
flowers (187k)

Misc. Uses:

  • The stems contain a useable fiber (as most sunflowers).
  • The flowers produce a yellow dye for use on cotton or wool.

Tags :

native Texas wildflower, Texas native wildflower, native plant, annual, herb, medicinal plant, edible plant, dye plant, alternate leaves, late summer flowers, fall flowers, winter flowers, full sun, large flowers, Compositae, Aster family, Composite family, Comps, yellow flowers, seed-eating birds, larval host (Bordered patch and Silvery checkerspot), butterflies, attractive foliage, garden worthy, propagate by seed, pastures, sand dunes, coastal, saline conditions, silver-leaf sunflower, silver leaf sunflower, taprooted, taproot, tap-root

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Last updated: 28-Feb-2009
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