Sunday, January 2, 2011

Helianthus debilis ssp cucumerifolius

While meandering on the back roads of South Carolina on my way back from Woodlanders to my sisters apartment in Charlotte NC last July, I found this striking dwarf sunflower. I pulled over and went to take photos and gather seed, and when I got back to the car I realized my socks (and leg skin) were impaled with numerous spikey seedheads that looked like medievil weapons. They turned out to be seedheads of something called caltrop grass, an evil plant indeed! Trying to remove the spiked ball seedheads with fingers only invited more pain via perforation, so I removed them with pruning shears, not an easy task. Well, at least it wasn't fire ants or rattlers/copperheads, which represent other potential incoveniences for the down south seed collector.
This is an annual plant which has a preference for disturbed habitats, which indicates that it will be easy to grow in my garden next year. The seeds are smaller than typical sunflower seeds, and the plants evidently more floriferous. I think they would look great in a sunny, well drained spot.

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