Delray Dune Daisies

Atlantic Dunes Park in Delray Beach, Florida is a public beach at its best. This Palm Beach County refuge offers pristine public access to the ocean and observable coastal native plants. It has clean restrooms, cold showers and lifeguards on duty.  The park is quiet and largely undeveloped, and much the same as when we started visiting it nearly 30 years ago with my grandparents. A visit to Atlantic Dunes is a healthy counterpoint to over-development that Florida seems known for.

The footpath to the beach cuts through a gently sloping dune. On the dune, above where people tread in and out, I saw this plant with the blooming yellow flowers. I called them “Dune Daisies” at first. Now I have them identified properly. Their colloquial name is Beach Dune Sunflowers; in the botanical world they are Helianthus debilis.  

Helianthus debilis is a native Florida plant that is drought and salt tolerant. It grows in full sun and is considered a ground cover for landscaping. The flower heads are around same size as a US silver dollar or Canadian Loonie (though that’s not an even exchange rate these days!). We returned to the same beach a day after I took this, and the flower heads were already spent.


Helianthus debilis | 1/500 sec.; F/8; ISO-100; 10mm

This mock-macro method is one of my favorite ways to use my wide-angle (10-22mm) lens. The low vantage point in the image was achieved by shooting on my belly in a low cobra pose. My camera was placed only a few centimeters off the ground with the lens only inches from the first flower in the cluster. Because it was right off the footpath, I didn’t have to disturb any nearby sand or dune grasses to make the image.

S a v e   t h e   p l a c e !  :  L e a v e   n o   t r a c e !

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