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Helianthus praetermissus
(Lost sunflower)

[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]



Family: Asteraceae

Scientific Name: Helianthus praetermissus E.E. Watson

Synonyms: None

Vernacular Name: Lost sunflower

R-E-D Code: 3-?-3

Description: Annual (?); stem slender, unbranched, about 0.9 m tall, sparingly coarse-strigose; leaves opposite to mid-stem, alternate above, narrowly linear-lanceolate, about 6 cm long, 6 mm wide, acute, entire, narrowly attenuate to a sessile base, thinly appressed hispid; head solitary about 1.0 cm across; involucral bracts lanceolate, acute, minutely rough-hairy; rays few, yellow, narrow, about 1.0 cm long; disk flowers with reddish-brown lobes, glabrous, base obscurely pubescent; achenes hairy at the tip with two readily falling scales at the summit. Flowers in September.

Similar Species: Helianthus paradoxus differs in having leaves with less hirsute surfaces and more prominent lateral veins, a branched top, and fewer hairs on the top of the fruit.


Distribution: New Mexico, Cibola County (?).

Habitat: Perhaps wet ground based on the collection locality for the only specimen.

Remarks: This species is known only from the type specimen collected in 1851 on the Sitgreaves expedition. The locality was the head of the Rio Laguna (now Rio San Jose) at Ojo de la Gallina. There are two Ojo de la Gallinas on the expedition map, both on the north side of the Zuni Mountains. The date was September 27 (21?), 1851. Unfortunately, the collection locality does not match the location of the expedition on either date; it was at Zuni Pueblo on September 21 and near the junction of the Zuni and Little Colorado rivers on September 27. Heiser et al. (1969) did not treat this species in their monograph due to the somewhat fragmentary condition of the only specimen. This species may have been named from a depauperate specimen of Helianthus paradoxus. The recent discovery of more Helianthus paradoxus populations in New Mexico provides an opportunity to answer this question.

Conservation Considerations: None possible until populations are discovered. Additional field searches are needed to determine the range, abundance, habitat, reproduction and other important biological parameters. Taxonomic relationship between Helianthus praetermissus and H. paradoxus needs clarification.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

Heiser, C.B., D.M. Smith, S.B. Clevenger and W.C. Martin. 1969. The North American sunflowers (Helianthus). Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Club 22(3):1-218.

*New Mexico Native Plants Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Sitgreaves, L. 1853. Report of an expedition down the Zuni and Colorado rivers. Senate Executive Document Number 59, 32nd Congress, 2nd Session. Reprinted in 1962 by Rio Grande Press, Chicago, Illinois.

*Watson, E.E. 1928. Contributions to a monograph of the genus Helianthus. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters 9:305-476.

Information Compiled By: Charlie McDonald, 1999

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Helianthus praetermissusSoCSoC...SHGHQ


Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
©2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council