By Suzanne Wodek
Heliopsis helianthoides is an upright, clump-forming, sunflower-like, native perennial. It typically grows 3’ to 4’ tall and features a daisy-like flower 2” to 3” in diameter. Yellow-orange rays surround a brownish-yellow center. Common names include early sunflower, oxeye and false sunflower. Unlike true sunflowers, this is a member of the aster family. The genus name comes from the Greek helios, meaning the sun, and opsis, meaning resembling the rayed, yellow flower heads. Oxeye is hardy and easily grown in dry sites, eroded sites and poor soil, and is also a good choice for our clay soil. It blooms profusely through the summer and into early fall.
The nectar and pollen of the flower heads attract a wide variety of insects that pollinate including honeybees, bumblebees, wasps, beetles, butterflies and skippers. I’ve had a lot of time lately to watch Zoom presentations from Asheville GreenWorks, Bee City USA and Xerces Society about the importance of protecting and planting for pollinators. These organizations highly recommend native plants. As a member and volunteer at the Botanical Gardens, I am a firm believer in using native plants in my garden. I’m in the process of creating a pollinator habitat and having my yard certified.
Upcoming Events at the Botanical Gardens
Naturalists Walk with Garden manager Jay Kranyik
Sunday, August 2, 9–11:30 a.m.
Botany by Family with Mark Williams
Sunday, August 30, 2–5 p.m.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please check our website for complete information about these
educational programs this month. All programs are $15 for members and $20 for non-members, unless
otherwise stated. Participants must pre-register and pre-pay for classes by calling 828.252.5190.
The Botanical Gardens, located at 151 W.T. Weaver Boulevard, is a nonprofit organization housing a collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated and memberships are encouraged. Check AshevilleBotanicalGardens.org for a variety of educational programs.