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10.1: Encelia californica: Bush Sunflower

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Common Name

  • California Encelia
  • Bush Sunflower
  • Encelia Daisy
  • California Sunflower


The E. californica is a bushy perennial shrub, and it is native to San Diego. Its height range is between 20-60 inches tall and it has a rapid growth rate. The E. californica head has golden petals with brownish-red disks. Its leaves are about 1 to 2 ½ inches long. Its green, smooth, wavy-edged leaf almost looks and feels like wool. Encelia californica is rough, has a strong odor, but is very colorful and attractive to the eye.

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Division: Magnoliophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Order: Asterales
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Tribe: Heliantheae
  • Genus: Encelia
  • Species: E. californica


E. californica is known to grow in coastal bluffs and open or bushy slopes below 2000 ft. E. californica blooms in coastal sage and chaparral from February to June. E. californica is not an annual, but it is a perennial, meaning the plant lives for several years. E. californica is drought deciduous, meaning it loses its leaves and looks dead in the summer, when it’s dry. When rain comes the next season, the plant revives, puts out new green leaves, and begins to flower.


Cell Biology

Encelia californica, like all other plants, has eukaryotic cells. The difference between eukaryotes and prokaryotes is that eukaryotes have cells with a nucleus and many organelles. The Encelia californica cells have the following cell parts: a nucleus, which is similar to a safe that contains the factories trade secrets, a cytoskeleton, part of the cytoplasm that gives the cell its shape, ribosomes, the non-membrane bound organelles where all the proteins are made, and vacuoles, which act like a storage center. Unlike animal cells, plants have organelles called chloroplasts that allow the plant to make its own food using sunlight. Encelia californica cells divide in two different ways, through mitosis and through meiosis. Mitosis is when the nucleus divides, and each new cell contains a copy of the DNA in the original cell. Meiosis is when the cell divides to produce gametes with one half of the chromosomes (containing DNA) of the parent cells. Encelia californica needs gametes for reproduction.



Flowers have existed for nearly 140 million years. They have thrived and adapted in their need to survive. They first adapted to become land plants with spores. Spores first were aquatic and adapted to land. Later plants had evolved to produce seeds but had not yet grown flowers. Later when the plants started to first develop flowers, plants thrived, spreading flowers and fruits everywhere. Seeds are spread everywhere by the way of the fruits.


The large, bright yellow sunflowers attract a variety of pollinators including bees, flies, and butterflies. These pollinators usually tend to stay put for a good amount of time, in order to drink the nectar or collect all the pollen. Fruits serve as a carrier for the seeds to continue reproduction of the E. californica.

Anatomy, Morphology and Physiology

Encelia californica tends to bloom in the late winter/early spring, mid spring, and in the late spring/early summer. The flowering process first begins when the pollen from a flower’s anther is transferred to the stigma. There are two types of fertilization- cross-fertilization and self-fertilization. Self fertilization is when the pollen from one flower’s anther is transferred to the same flower’s eggs. Cross fertilization is when a flower’s pollen is transferred to an entirely different plant’s stigma. E. californica can most likely be fertilized only through cross pollination. When the eggs become fertilized, they evolve into seeds. When the petals of a flower fall off only to leave the ovary, they will soon develop into the flowering plant’s fruit. Encelia californica is a dicot. Dicots are plants with seeds that sprout two leaves when they germinate.

E. californica and members of its plant family are unique in many different ways. They have flower heads which look like single flowers, but are clusters of individual flowers. These individual flowers can be disk flowers that are located in the center part or ray flowers that look like petals. Most sunflower species have both disk and ray flowers, but some just have disk flowers, and some just have ray flowers. E. californica has both: the brown in the middle are disk flowers, and the yellow on the outside are ray flowers.




Celeste Escanuela Sophia Fuller


Fred Kramer, Mission Trails Regional Park

Supervising Faculty

Arami Yoon


Grover Cleveland High School, Reseda, CA


  • Published prior to review.

Edit History

  • Created: April 5, 2013
  • Version 1.0 submitted to CK-12: July 11, 2013
  • CK-12 edits: in progress


  • Middle School (grades 6-8)

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Date Created:
Aug 15, 2012
Last Modified:
Dec 05, 2014
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