CPC Plant Profile: Pecos Sunflower
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Plant Profile

Pecos Sunflower (Helianthus paradoxus)

Garden-grown plants in flower. Photo Credit: San Antonio Botanical Garden
Description
  • Global Rank: N/A
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • State: NM, NN, TX
  • Nature Serve ID: 139880
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 04/01/1990

Sunflowers are an important part of the floral and cultural heritage of Texas and the United States, which is rapidly being lost due to neglect. Because our wild sunflowers are in the same genus as our domestic sunflowers, their genes could be invaluable in improving characteristics (e.g., yield, oil content, disease resistance) of cultivated sunflowers. The puzzle sunflower (Helianthus paradoxus) is found growing in brackish saline waters, which could prove useful in developing a cultivated sunflower which will grow under saline conditions. (Fowler-Propst, pers. comm., 1998). The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is collecting and storing seeds to ensure that these valuable genes are not lost. The Puzzle sunflower produces typical sunflower flowers from September to November. While at first glance this species resembles the common sunflower, it differs from this common species in having narrower leaves, fewer hairs on its stems and leaves, and flower heads that are slightly smaller that bloom later in the season. (USFWS 1999)

Participating Institutions
CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.
Updates
  • 10/06/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is collecting and storing seeds to ensure that these valuable genes are not lost.

  • 10/06/2020
  • Seed Collection

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is collecting and storing seeds to ensure that these valuable genes are not lost.

  • 10/06/2020
  • Propagation Research

Seeds were collected from the wild, germination studies were conducted, and seeds were sent to the National Seed Storage Lab for long term storage.

  • 10/06/2020
  • Genetic Research

Reiseberg et al. (1990) used molecular genetics to establish this taxon as a true species while predicting its ancient lineage as a hybrid between the common sunflower and the prairie sunflower.

  • 10/06/2020
  • Demographic Research

Bush and Van Auken (1997, 1998) have studied factors influencing the distribution and demography of this species, including grazing and the presence of salt marsh plant.

  • 10/06/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seeds were collected from the wild, germination studies were conducted, and seeds were sent to the National Seed Storage Lab for long term storage.

  • 10/06/2020
  • Seed Collection

Seeds were collected from the wild, germination studies were conducted, and seeds were sent to the National Seed Storage Lab for long term storage.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

This species is found at widely separated locations in central and southern New Mexico and into Texas. It may once have been more common but suitable habitat within the range is declining. Texas has only one extant population. A couple of the New Mexico populations are large, but others are very small and non-viable. Species is very vulnerable to changes in natural hydrologic regimes.

Cindy Barrett
  • 01/01/2010

The loss or alteration of wetland habitat that this species requires. This can happen in a number of ways, including the lowering of water tables through aquifer withdrawals for irrigated agriculture or urban water uses, diversion of water for irrigation

Cindy Barrett
  • 01/01/2010

Presently known from 25 sites that occur in 5 general areas. These areas are Pecos Co., TX, in the vicinity of Fort Stockton; Chaves Co., NM, from Dexter to just north of Roswell; Guadalupe Co., NM, in the vicinity of Santa Rosa; Valencia Co., NM, along the lower part of the Rio San Jose; and, Cibola Co., NM, in the vicinity of Grants. There are 2 sites in the Fort Stockton area, 11 in the Dexter to Roswell area, 8 in the Santa Rosa area, 1 along the lower Rio San Jose, and 2 in the Grants area. (USFWS 1999)

Cindy Barrett
  • 01/01/2010

Bush and Van Auken (1997, 1998) have studied factors influencing the distribution and demography of this species, including grazing and the presence of salt marsh plant. Reiseberg et al. (1990) used molecular genetics to establish this taxon as a true species while predicting its ancient lineage as a hybrid between the common sunflower and the prairie sunflower.

Cindy Barrett
  • 01/01/2010

Seeds were collected from the wild, germination studies were conducted, and seeds were sent to the National Seed Storage Lab for long term storage. Five of the 25 known sites are on property managed principally for wildlife and endangered species conservation.

Cindy Barrett
  • 01/01/2010

Re-collect seeds to send to the National Seed Storage Lab.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Helianthus paradoxus
Authority Heiser
Family Asteraceae
CPC Number 2202
ITIS 36670
USDA HEPA2
Common Names Pecos sunflower | puzzle sunflower | paradox sunflower
Associated Scientific Names Helianthus paradoxus
Distribution In New Mexico (Cibola, Valencia, Guadalupe, andChaves counties) and west Texas (Pecos and Reevescounties). (USFWS 1999)
State Rank
State State Rank
New Mexico S2
Navajo Nation SX
Texas S1
Habitat

This species is found in areas that have permanently saturated soils, including desert wetlands (cienegas) that are associated with springs, but may include stream and lake margins. When found around lakes, these lakes are usually natural cienega habitats that have been impounded. If the wetland, lake or stream is drained, diverted, or dries out, this species will disappear from the site. (USFWS 1999)

Ecological Relationships

Genetic work has shown that this species is likely an ancient hybrid between the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and the prairie sunflower. (USFWS 1999)

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Other
Insects Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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