smooth oxeye

(Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra)

Conservation Status
smooth oxeye
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Smooth oxeye, also called false sunflower, is a 2 to 5 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises from a creeping rhizome with fibrous roots. There are three varieties of this plant. The center of distribution for this variety is the upper Great Plains. It is the only variety found in Minnesota.

The stem is erect, occasionally branched, even bushy on open situations. The upper part of the stem is rough to the touch due to minute, stiff hairs. The lower stem is less rough.

Leaves are opposite, both on the main stem and within the inflorescence. They are triangular egg-shaped, roughly like an equilateral triangle. They are on leaf stalks that can be 1 16 to long, those of the main leaves averaging ½. The blades can be 2 to 4¾ long and ¾ to 2 wide and taper gradually to a pointed tip. The main leaves are usually 2¾ to 4 long and 1 to 19 16 wide. They are conspicuously veined. The upperside is rough to the touch due to minute, stiff hairs. The underside is less rough. The margins are coarsely toothed.

The inflorescence is 1 to 15 erect flower heads on 3½ to 10 long, leafless stalks at the ends of the stems.

The flower head is 2 to 3½ wide and has 8 to 18, usually 12 to 15, yellow ray florets. The disk is cone-shaped, to 1 wide, and has 10 to 75 slightly darker yellow disk florets. There is no floral scent.

Unlike true sunflowers in the family Helianthus, the ray flowers are fertile. They remain attached to the head after they shrivel and become papery (see photo below).




2 to 5


Flower Color


Yellow ray florets, slightly darker yellow disk florets


Similar Species




Dry. Fields, prairies, woods, waste places. Full sun.




July to September


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Asterales (sunflowers, bellflowers, fanflowers, and allies)  


Asteraceae (sunflowers, daisies, asters, and allies)  
  Subfamily Asteroideae  
  Supertribe Helianthodae  
  Tribe Heliantheae (sunflowers and allies)  
  Subtribe Zinniinae  
  Genus Heliopsis (oxeyes)  
  Species Heliopsis helianthoides (false sunflower)  

Subordinate Taxa






Heliopsis helianthoides ssp. occidentalis

Heliopsis helianthoides ssp. scabra

Heliopsis helianthoides var.occidentalis

Heliopsis minor

Heliopsis scabra


Common Names


false sunflower


smooth oxeye

smooth ox-eye












A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

Visitor Photos

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Bill Reynolds


Smooth Oxeye

Here is a Smooth Oxeye or False Sunflower head. This wildflower just started showing up in ditch rightaway around my property.

  smooth oxeye  


    smooth oxeye   smooth oxeye  
    smooth oxeye      

Flower Head

    smooth oxeye   smooth oxeye  
    smooth oxeye   smooth oxeye  

Cone-shaped Disk

    smooth oxeye   smooth oxeye  
    smooth oxeye      

Shriveled Ray Floret Still Attached

    smooth oxeye      


    smooth oxeye   smooth oxeye  


    smooth oxeye   smooth oxeye  


    smooth oxeye   smooth oxeye  



  Heliopsis helianthoides smooth oxeye
Frank Mayfield
  Heliopsis helianthoides smooth oxeye  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Oxeye Sunflower - Heliopsis helianthoides in bloom at Ion Exchange

Uploaded on Aug 7, 2011

Earthyman views Oxeye Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) in full bloom at Ion Exchange native seed and plant nursery in northeast Iowa.




Visitor Sightings

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  Bill Reynolds

Location: Pennington Co. MN

Here is a Smooth Oxeye or False Sunflower head. This wildflower just started showing up in ditch rightaway around my property.

smooth oxeye  

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