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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - February 03, 2005

From: Green Mountain, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Sunflower with large, thick, fuzzy leaves
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello Smarty Plants: I live in Green Mt. NC and am a Master Gardener Volunteer in Buncombe County (Asheville). In summer several years ago we visited a garden which had a beautiful sunflower with large, thick, fuzzy leaves. The fuzz was white, the leaves were blue, and the veins had a reddish caste. The plant stands about 6' high, grows in full sun. I was given seeds to plant in my garden and had flowers for a few years, gathering the seeds to plant the following year. The last year I had this plant I waited too late in the summer to gather the seeds and the birds (?) had beat me to it.  I went back to my original source and the owner said that his seeds were also gone. The name of the sunflower is Helianthus argophyllus. Please find me a source, I miss this sunflower very much in my garden.

ANSWER:

According to the USDA Plants Database the silverleaf sunflower (Helianthus argophyllus) occurs in Texas, Florida and North Carolina. You can search on the Wildflower Center web page for nurseries and seed companies that specialize in native seeds. Select Explore Plants from the side bar and then select Suppliers Directory. You can then choose Seed Companies and search for companies by state or region. The seed companies I found with in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina with web sites did not list Helianthus argophyllus, but you might try them and the ones listed without websites by telephone. Another possibility is to try an organization called "Seeds of Texas". Members of Seeds of Texas "grow or collect, and trade, seeds of native and heirloom or traditional garden plants adapted to the Gulf and Southwest States." Their website was not functioning but here is other contact information for them:

Seeds of Texas
PO Box 9882
College Station, TX 77842
Email: jackrowe@compuserve.com

A quick Google search revealed one company Chiltern Seeds in, of all places, England, with seeds of Helianthus argophyllus for sale.
 

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