Helianthus annuus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Asterales Asteraceae

Scientific Name: Helianthus annuus L.
Common Name(s):
English Sunflower
French Tournesol
Spanish Girasol
Helianthus aridus Rydb.
Helianthus indicus L.
Helianthus jaegeri Heiser
Helianthus lenticularis Douglas
Helianthus macrocarpus DC.
Helianthus multiflorus Hook.
Helianthus ovatus Lehm.
Helianthus platycephalus Cass.
Helianthus tubaeformis Nutt.
Taxonomic Source(s): The Plant List. 2013. The Plant List Version 1.1. Available at: (Accessed: July 2016).
Taxonomic Notes: The wild Helianthus annuus is considered a primary genetic relative of the cultivated Sunflower (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program 2016).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-07-15
Assessor(s): Contreras, A., Rhodes, L. & Maxted, N.
Reviewer(s): Fielder, H.
Helianthus annuus is a common, widespread species within its native range, adapted to several habitats and a wide range of environmental contitions, it is also extensively adventive. It also occurs in several protected areas and germplasm of this species is conserved in ex situ collections; it is therefore globally assessed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Helianthus annuus is a widespread species that is native to western areas of Canada, north, central and south of the United States, and northern Mexico as elevations between sea level and 3,000 m a.s.l.; it is also widely naturalized and cultivated, in some areas it is present as a weed or invasive species (Heiser et al. 1969, Gómez and González 1995, Villaseñor and Espinosa 1998, Schilling 2006, Lentz et al. 2008, Pruski and Robinson 2015, USDA-NRCS 2016, USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program 2016).
Countries occurrence:
Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan); Mexico (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, México Distrito Federal, México State, Nayarit, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Zacatecas); United States (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:12216
Upper elevation limit (metres):3000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is widespread in North America; it is common, widespread and abundant, so is ranked as globally secure (NatureServe 2015).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Wild populations can be found in river floodplains and stream banks (Lentz et al. 2008). It grows in well drained, heavy, clayey soils (Reiseberg et al. 1995) and can tolerate soil pH from 5.7 to more than 8 (Putnam et al. 1990). In Mexico, the species is found in wet to dry open areas, as well as on roadsides and other disturbed sites, along streams and irrigation channels as well as a crop weed (Gómez and González 1995). Wild populations in Mexico are found in dry scrubland (Lentz et al. 2008).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Helianthus annuus is an attractive plant to pollinating bees for the collection of nectar and pollen (USDA 2015). The species is widely cultivated with many uses, having edible seeds, being processed as an oil or fat source for human consumption, as well as being used as animal fodder and as a possible alternative fuel source, it is also used as an ornamental plant (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program 2016). Wild H. annuus is considered a primary genetic relative of the cultivated Sunflower and so it has the potential for use as a gene donor for crop improvement (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resource Program 2016). H. annuus is also important in traditional native American cultures as a medicinal plant (Foster and Duke 2000, Vibrans 2009, BDMTM 2009).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Helianthus annuus is potentially threatened by the decline of managed and wild colonies of invertebrate pollinators due to pathogens, pesticides, transgenic crops, invasive plant and pollinator species and habitat loss, leading to a low fecundity (limitation of seed production) (Kremen et al. 2002, Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is recorded as present within at least 83 protected areas within its native range in the United States of America (Information Center for the Environment (ICE) 2016). In Mexico, it occurs in the protected areas Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey, Nuevo León (CONANP 2006). There are at least 943 germplasm accessions of wild Helianthus annuus conserved in the North Central Regional PI Station, Iowa State University, with duplicates in the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, Fort Collins (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program 2016).

Citation: Contreras, A., Rhodes, L. & Maxted, N. 2016. Helianthus annuus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T19073408A47600755. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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