Plant of the Week

USDA Plants distribution map for the species.
Heliomeris multiflora range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Showy goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora).
These showy goldeneye flowers are very typical for a member of the sunflower family. Photo by Charlie McDonald.

Showy goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora).
This plant was photographed in early September along the roadside to Sandia Crest in the Cibola National Forest east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo by Charlie McDonald.

Showy Goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora)

By Charlie McDonald

Showy goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora) grows throughout the mountain west from foothills elevations up to the subalpine (3,000-11,800 feet). It inhabits open, dry to moderately moist slopes and is very common along roadsides. It blooms from July through September, often brightening many acres with golden yellow.

This herbaceous perennial plant grows in bushy clumps standing 1 to 4 feet tall. The leaves are broadly to narrowly lance-shaped, slightly toothed, and 1 to 3 inches long. All but the uppermost leaves are opposite on the stem. The flower heads are borne at the ends of the branches. Both the ray flowers and disk flowers are yellow forming heads 1 to 1.5 inches broad. This is an attractive plant with a sunflower like appearance, but the flowers are smaller and more numerous than those of common sunflower (Helianthus annuus).

Showy goldeneye is in the small genus Heliomeris, which is a group of five species found in the western U.S. Showy goldeneye is placed in the genus Viguiera in some books. Heliomeris and Viguiera are closely related to Helianthus (sunflowers).

The showy goldeneye adds a lot of color to our western landscapes in the fall. It is one plant that does not deserve being called just another DYC (doggone yellow composite), which is a term of convenience coined by botanists for the yellow-flowered members of the sunflower family (Astereceae). The term DYC came about because the sunflower family with about 1,500 genera and 23,000 species worldwide is the largest flowering plant family, and many species have yellow flowers. This makes exact identification of many DYCs a daunting task. Often though, DYCs are quite distinct from one another. They just require learning a little specialized terminology and some magnification to see the distinguishing characteristics clearly. This is a fun task for some; for others the term DYC is good enough and does not at all distract from their beauty and enjoyment.

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Louisiana Trillium (Trillium ludovicianum).
Louisiana Trillium (Trillium ludovicianum)