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Schweinitz's Sunflower

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Helianthus annuus, the annual flower that produces seeds with commercial value, is native to the prairies of the mid-western area but now is found all over the US and Canada. We have several sunflowers that are evolved in our part of the country. One of particular interest is Helianthus schweinitzii, or Schweinitz sunflower. This plant is endemic to certain parts of North and South Carolina. Endemic meaning a plant this is exclusively found in a specific region, or expanded only occurs in the two Carolinas. In the case of this sunflower, it seems to have evolved in the piedmont and Applachian prairies that were subjected to natural or set fire management as it doesn’t persist in shade. With habitat loss and fire suppression, it’s now on the Federal endangered species list and naturalists are working to reintroduce it to suitable habitats.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.