Plant of the Week: Swamp Sunflower

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Author: 
Adam Dooling
Photo by Friends of the High LineThe yellow flowers of the swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) are a beautiful sight on the High Line in autumn. Photo by Friends of the High Line

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share with you one of our gardeners’ current favorites.

The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long ago,
And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow;
But on the hill the golden-rod, and the aster in the wood,
And the yellow sun-flower by the brook in autumn beauty stood

(William Cullen Bryant, "The Death of the Flowers")

This quote from poet William Cullen Bryant perfectly captures the October landscape on the High Line. Not only are the brilliant Asters and Goldenrod in bloom, but so is this week’s favorite – Helianthus angustifolius, the swamp sunflower.

Native to the wet prairies and swamps of the southeastern United States, Helianthus angustifolius thrives easily in almost any situation, so much so that it may be considered aggressive or “weedy” by some. But the bit of work required to contain this late bloomer is clearly worth it, for its aureate swaths of yellow composite flowers are a stunning sight come autumn.

You can find Helianthus angustifolius in all its autumn beauty throughout the Wildflower Field, located between West 27th and West 30th Streets on The High Line.

WHERE TO SEE THIS PLANT
In the Wildflower Field, between West 27th and West 30th Streets

Download our October Bloom Guide.