Helianthus maximiliani

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Maximilian sunflower 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Missouri and Texas to southern Canada
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Yellow rays with darker yellow center disk
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Clay Soil, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Best grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils, including poor sandy soils, humusy loams and clays. Tolerates dry soils and drought. Easily grown from seed and may self-seed in the garden.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Helianthus maximiliani, commonly called Maximilian sunflower, is native to the Great Plains and former tall grass prairie regions of central North America. In Missouri, it is typically found today in dry open areas such as prairies, bald knobs, bluffs, limestone glades, roadsides and waste areas (Steyermark). Features 2-3” diameter sunflowers with yellow rays and darker yellow center disks from mid-summer into fall. Flowers appear on short stalks in the upper leaf axils in an elongated raceme-like inflorescence atop rigid hairy stems rising to as much as 10’ tall. Stems are clad with rough, narrow, tapered, grayish-green leaves (3-6” long), frequently folded lengthwise.

Genus name comes from the Greek words helios meaning sun and anthos meaning flower.

Specific epithet honors German Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied who explored parts of the American West in 1832-1834. His expedition up the Missouri River originated in St. Louis in 1833.

Common name also honors German Prince Maximilian.


No serious insect or disease problems. Taller plants may need some staking or other support in exposed areas.


Sunny borders, wild or native plant gardens, cottage gardens, naturalized areas, meadows or prairies.