About the SFMGA

Wednesday, August 01, 2001

FLOWER OF THE MONTH: Taramahura sunflower

Although sunflowers can be invasive and toxic to surrounding plants, in the desert, they are the boldest color we can get late summer. Their big, bright, yellow faces lead us into the crispness of the golden colors of autumn as they line the highways and stand tall above all the retiring flowers in the garden.

My favorite is the Taramahura sunflower. For it is not just big, bold, bright and yellow, it also has a turquoise ring in the center of the flower that makes it uniquely different. I got mine in seed form from Seeds of Change, a local organic seed company, but I’m sure many other seed companies carry them too.


Last week I was in one of my gardens, and from afar I could see a plant in the corner that I had never noticed before. Excited to have one be so kind as to volunteer herself in my yard, I walked over to get a better look. Low and behold, it was not a new plan at all! It was a defoliated hollyhock that looked like it was wearing a mask. The villain was a couple of black and gray caterpillars that spun a web around the leaves of the plant sitting next to the disguised one. They are called LEAF ROLLERS and can be treated in two ways.

One way is with natural enemies such as birds and parasitoid trichogramma wasps, which may be introduced to the garden. Another method is dusting with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) on a routine basis. Beware, though, they are not always black and gray; the name is given to many different species of caterpillars that roll foliage around themselves and spin sticky webbing as they roll. Go get ‘um before they get you!