An introduced, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its native distributional range, which has arrived there by human activity, either deliberate or accidental. Some introduced species are damaging to the ecosystem they are introduced into, others have no negative effect and can, in fact, be beneficial as an alternative to pesticides in agriculture for example. In some instances the potential for being beneficial or detrimental in the long run remains unknown, for instance in New Zealand. A list of introduced species is given in a separate article.
The effect of introduced species on natural environments is a controversial subject, and one that has gained much scrutiny by scientists, governments, farmers and others. Not all introduced species are problematic. Those species that spread widely and create significant problems are known as invasive species.
Helianthus maximiliani (also, H. maximilianii) is a species of sunflower known by the common name Maximilian sunflower.
Native to much of the eastern half of North America, it is found in parts of the western half as an introduced species. The plant thrives in a number of ecosystems, particularly across the plains in central Canada and the United States. It is also cultivated as an ornamental.
A branching perennial herb, growing from a stout rhizome and reaches heights from one half to three meters. The lance-shaped leaves are narrow, pointed, folded down the midvein, and up to 30 centimeters long on large plants. The slender, tall, erect stems and alternately-arranged leaves are covered in rough hairs. The flower heads are surrounded at the base by pointed green phyllaries which often stick straight out and curl at the tips. The center is filled with yellow tipped brown disc florets and the circumference is lined with bright yellow ray florets 2 to 4 centimeters long.
The plant reproduces by seed and by vegetative sprouting from the rhizome. The thick rhizome is edible and provided a food similar to the Jerusalem artichoke for Native American groups such as the Sioux. The flower heads are attractive to insects and the fruits are eaten by birds. This sunflower is named for Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, who encountered it on his travels in North America.