Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan)
|Also known as:|
|Life cycle:||annual, biennial, short-lived perennial|
|Habitat:||sun; fields, prairies, open woods, roadsides, disturbed soil|
|Bloom season:||June - October|
|Plant height:||1 to 3 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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1 to a few long-stalked flower heads at the top of the plant and arising from upper leaf axils. Flowers are 2 to 3 inches across with 8 to 20 yellow-orange petals (ray flowers) and a dark brown or purplish button-shaped to hemispheric to cone-shaped center disk. The disk is covered in dozens of tiny dark purplish-brown flowers that bloom from the bottom of the disk up.
The bracts surrounding the base of the flower are linear-oblong, widely spreading, and densely covered with long stiff hairs. Inner bracts are shorter than the outer bracts. Flower stalks are densely covered in long, stiff, spreading hairs.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are variable in shape and size, but are 2 to 7 inches long and up to 2 inches wide, lowest leaves generally lance-oblong, lance-elliptic, or spatula-shaped on long stalks, becoming shorter stalked as they ascend the stem with the upper leaves stalkless. Edges are toothless or with a few shallow teeth; surfaces are densely covered in short stiff hairs. Stems are unbranched or few-branched in the upper half, covered in long, white, stiff, spreading hairs.
Black-eyed Susan can be found growing in almost any sunny location - dry fields, roadsides, or along lake shores, in patches or scattered amongst other vegetation. It is rather variable in the size, shape and toothiness of leaves, and size and shape of the disk, but is distinguished from other species with similar flowers by the long, spreading hairs. There are 4 recognized varieties: var. hirta with coarsely toothed, egg-shaped leaves found from Illinois eastward, and var. pulcherrima, common throughout the eastern 2/3 of North America, including Minnesota; 2 other vars are regional to southern states. Black-eyed Susan cultivars are popular in the nursery trade, notably Gloriosa Daisy, with a large, bright red eye on the flowers.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Carlton counties and in a private garden in Lino Lakes.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?