CPC Plant Profile: Schweinitz's Sunflower
Search / Plant Profile / Helianthus schweinitzii
Plant Profile

Schweinitz's Sunflower (Helianthus schweinitzii)

This picture shows the yellow flowers of this plant, which can grow up to 2 meters tall. Photo Credit: Rob Gardner
  • Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • State: NC, SC
  • Nature Serve ID: 149675
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 05/28/1986

Almost all of the extant populations of this native sunflower are on vulnerable sites. Protection from shade and competition from other vegetation have been identified as the most important habitat characteristics for Helianthus schweinitzii. Unfortunately, the habitat that meets these requirements has become increasingly rare. This species historically inhabited Piedmont prairies and glades, and open habitats that were maintained by natural fires and to some extent by grazing animals. Today, artificial disturbance provides the necessary open habitatin places like roadsides and power line right-of-ways, sites that are extremely difficult to protect (USFWS 1991).

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.
Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to North and South Carolina. There are 63 extant occurrences known in NC, most of them along roadsides where they are difficult to protect. The species has lost much of its native habitat to forest succession due to the elimination of natural disturbances, and to conversion to pine plantations, and urbanization.

  • 01/01/2010

Fire suppression Urbanization Conversion of habitat to pine plantations Highway right-of-way maintenance Small population size Lack of formal protection for most known populations (USFWS 1991)

  • 01/01/2010

10 populations in NC, 6 populations in SC (USFWS 2000)

  • 01/01/2010

Demographic study conducted by Larry Barden, funded by The Nature Conservancy and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Detailed mapping and monitoring of populations in South Carolina conducted by Richard Houk, funded by the South Carolina Natural Heritage Trust. The project also investigated conservation and management agreements with landowners. Seed germination and seedling establishment studied both in the field (Larry Barden, UNC-Charlotte) and in an artificial population established at Winthrop University (Richard Houk).

  • 01/01/2010

Cooperative agreement between The North Carolina Natural Heritage Program and NC Department of Transportation to prevent the mowing of populations during the flowering and fruiting period--an unsuccessful effort as of 1994 (when Recovery Plan was published). A few sites in NC are managed by The Nature Conservancy, where efforts have been geared toward cutting back or burning encroaching woody vegetation to eliminate or reduce shading and competition.

  • 01/01/2010

Reintroduction protocol Surveys for additional populations Protection and management of existing and restored sites Further research on the biology of the species and on management practices for maintaining suitable habitat

  • 01/01/2010

Seed collection from populations not represented in collection.


Be the first to post an update!

Taxon Helianthus schweinitzii
Authority Torr. & Gray
Family Asteraceae
CPC Number 2205
ITIS 36686
Common Names Schweinitz's sunflower
Associated Scientific Names Helianthus schweinitzii
Distribution North Carolina and South Carolina (USFWS 1991)
State Rank
State State Rank
North Carolina S3
South Carolina S3

Sunny to semi-sunny clearings such as roadsides, power line clearings, old pastures, and woodland openings. Generally on poor clay or rocky soil. (USFWS 1991)

Ecological Relationships

Associated with a variety of species: some with affinities to glade and prairie habitats of the Midwest, as well as some that are associated with fire-maintained sandhills and savannas of the Coastal Plain. (USFWS 1991)

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees Confirmed Pollinator Link
Bees Floral Visitor Link
Butterflies & Moths
Caterpillars Confirmed Pollinator Link
Butterflies Confirmed Pollinator Link
Brush-footed butterflies Danaus plexippus Floral Visitor Link
Beetles Confirmed Pollinator Link
Beetles Floral Visitor Link
Soldier beetles Chauliognathus Floral Visitor Link
Flies Floral Visitor Link
Flesh flies Sarcophagidae Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Grasshoppers/crickets Crickets Confirmed Pollinator Link
Ants Confirmed Pollinator Link
Wasps Floral Visitor Link
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

Donate to CPC to Save this Species

CPC secures rare plants for future generations by coordinating on-the-ground conservation and training the next generation of plant conservation professionals. Donate today to help save rare plants from extinction.

Donate Today