Helianthus salicifolius 'Autumn Gold'

Landscape view
Common Name: willow-leaved sunflower 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 1.75 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.75 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: September to October
Bloom Description: Yellow rays with dark brown center cones
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerant of wide range of soil conditions. If grown in part shade, plants tend to be taller and more open, produce fewer flowers and require support. Spreads over time by creeping rhizomes to form dense colonies. Divide every 3-4 years to control spread and maintain vigor.

'Autumn Gold' does not reliably self-seed and should not be used for naturalizing.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Helianthus salicifolius , commonly called willow-leaved sunflower, is a Missouri native plant that occurs in unglaciated western Missouri prairie areas south of the Missouri River. Features clusters (branched panicles) of 2-2.5" wide sunflowers with bright yellow rays and dark brown center disks atop rigid, whitish-green stems typically growing 5-6' (less frequently to 8') tall. Narrow, drooping, willow-like, pale green leaves (5-7"). Attractive to butterflies and other insect pollinators. Blooms from late summer to fall. Good fresh cut flower.

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

Specific epithet means with leaves like Salix (willow).

'Autumn Gold' is a compact, mound-forming selection of willow-leaved sunflower that features bright yellow flowers. This cultivar originated from self-pollinated seed of the plant H. salicifolius 'Low Down'. A dense carpet of 2" diameter blooms with yellow rays and dark brown center cones cover the plant from late summer to frost. Mature clumps will reach up to 2' tall and spread to fill a similar area. Plant patent number PP30117 applies to this cultivar.


Sunflowers are generally susceptible to rust, leaf fungal spots and powdery mildew. Caterpillars and beetles may chew on the foliage. Watch for aphids. Taller plants may need staking. Deer tend to avoid this plant.

'Autumn Gold' should not require staking.


Attractive foliage and profuse late summer to fall bloom make this an excellent addition to the border background, wild or native plant garden, or naturalized planting.