(Heliopsis helianthoides) Thistle family
(H. laevis of Gray)
Flower-heads–Entirely golden yellow, daisy-like, 1 1/2 to in. across, the perfect disk florets inserted on a convex, chaffy receptacle, and surrounded by pistillate, fertile, 3-toothed ray florets ; usually numerous solitary heads borne on long peduncles from axils of upper leaves. Stem: 3 to 5 ft. tall, branching above, smooth. Leaves: Opposite, ovate, and tapering to a sharp point, sharply and evenly toothed.
Preferred HabitatOpen places; rich, low ground; beside streams.
DistributionSouthern Canada to Florida, westward to Illinois and Kentucky.
Along the streams the numerous flower-heads of this gorgeous sunbearer shine out from afar, brightening a long, meandering course across the low-lying meadows. Like heralds of good things to come, they march a little in advance of the brilliant pageant f wild flowers that sweeps across the country from mid-summer till killing frost. Most people mistake them for true, yellow-disked sunflowers, whose ray florets are neutral, not fertile as these long persistent ones are. But no one should confuse them with the dark cone-centred ox-eye daisy. Small bees, wasps, hornets, flies, little butterflies, beetles, and lower insects come to feast on the nectar and pollen within the minute tubular disk florets. The bright fulvous and black pearl crescent butterfly, with a trifle over an inch wing expanse; the common hair streak ; the even commoner little white butterfly ; and the tiny black sooty wing, among others, appear to find generous entertainment here. The last named little fellow, when in the cater-pillar stage, formed a cradle for himself by folding together a leaf of the ubiquitous green-flowered pigweed or lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album) and stitching the edges together with a few silken threads. Here it slept by day, emerging only at night to feed. Usually one has not long to wait before discovering the white-dotted sooty wing among the midsummer composites.