I think I have some sunflowers on my plot from a previous owner in the community garden, and was wondering how I can tell the difference between sunflowers and sunchokes.
Please provide images.
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Sunflowers and sunchokes are both members of the genus "helianthus", hence related and some similarities are to be expected - think family resemblance amongst cousins.
Sunflowers' Latin name Helianthus annuus indicates that they are annuals, so if you have seedlings coming up, they will probably be sunflowers, not sunchokes.
Sunchokes (Helianthus tuberosus) are perennials that reemerge from the tubers left in the soil or planted in spring, so they will push up leaves, not cotyledons.
Once taller, sunflowers have larger broader, heart-shaped leaves, sunchokes are narrower, more pointed ovals or even the characteristic rhomboid of the asteraceae family, not with the indentation on the stem side a sunflower typically has.
Sunchokes' flowers are like "simplified" sunflowers - often smaller, with fewer ray flowers ("petals"), typically 10-20 in a single layer, whereas sunflowers often have way more and in multiple staggered rows. The center is smaller, too, hosting 60-100 disc florets vs. a few hundred in sunflowers. Some sunflower breeds have multiple flower heads per stem, which I've never seen in sunchokes.
And if all methods fail, carefully dig down along the stem, the presence or absence of a tuber should clear up all doubts.