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12 year old plant #273491 - Ask Extension

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12 year old plant #273491

Asked August 27, 2015, 5:16 PM EDT

In 2003, my daughter and i planted some Paul Bunyun hybrid seeds which produced a large sunflower plant. We didn't plant seeds after that but this year a large plant grew next to our morning glory vines. The stalk is over 7 foot tall but we didn't get any sunflowers. We got over 30 pods the size of a golf ball that have turned black and contain seeds. They start out as a small dime sized 5 petal yellow flower. Then from inside the flower the pod starts to grow and pushes out the 5 petals of the flower. The morning glory vine is totally wrapped around the sunflower stalk, leaves, and stems. Have you ever experienced having a sunflower that didn't generate the traditional flower but a smaller, more delicate one that developed into a black seed pod?  Thank you !

Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Expert Response

In the case of a hybrid, the seeds do not breed true.The seeds can revert back to one or another of the original parent plants. That;s what apparently happened in this case. You are growing one of the plants that was crossbred to produce the Paul Bunyan sunflower. You may want to collect the seed heads before they pop open and distribute themselves. Since the outcome is unpredictable, the resulting plants become a nuisance.

Eileen East Replied August 29, 2015, 10:21 AM EDT
It looks to me like that plant is Abutilon.  The seed landed somehow in that spot and grew like weeds do and other wild plants.  You can decide whether you like it. Remove the seed pods or the entire plant if you do not want more of them!
Kim Lawrence Replied August 29, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT
Thank you. I followed up on your response that the plant is not a sunflower but a plant or weed called Abutilon. It is indeed a Abutilon specifically a Abutilon Theophrasi which can revert back from seed to one of the plants used to develop the Paul Bunyun Hybrid seed planted 12 yrs ago. The abutilon seed can exist to be viable for over 50 years. Or perhaps it was a byproduct of bird droppings since we live in Lancaster County Pennsylvania with a dominant agricultural environment. Thank you for your response. I truly dislike the plant and was only tolerating it to collect the seeds in the hope that i could cultivate a sunflower next season since the original plant was developed with my daughter over 12 years ago. I will destroy this plant and it's obnoxious looking seed pods or fruit as soon as i possibly can.. I'm handicapped so i'll need some assistance to assure that i can eliminate all traces of the plant, stem,pod, and roots. The stem base is easily 3 inches in diameter so it is rather hardy. Thank you again.
The Question Asker Replied August 31, 2015, 12:10 AM EDT

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