Rudbeckia hirta

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This native biennial or short-lived perennial typically grows to 1-2 feet tall, occasionally to 4 feet. The unbranched stem and leaves are covered with long whitish hairs (D). Their alternate, variable, narrowly elliptical leaves have entire, unlobed margins. The flowers are on long stalks each with a single head 2-3 inches wide (A,B). Each has 8-21 infertile, yellow, spreading, petal-like ray florets surrounding a rounded or cone-shaped disk of dark purple, fertile disk florets (A) which turn brown as they mature (F).

Grows in a wide variety of habitats, flowering mostly in June and July. At Neale Woods, Black-eyed Susan is common in all prairie restorations. It is also common in the floodplain prairie planting at Fontenelle Forest.

Other Rudbeckia species (“round or coneheads”) with spreading ray florets are Sweet Coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa), a taller plant that does not have prominent white stem or leaf hairs, and Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) a much branched species with abundant, but much smaller flower heads. Also, these two plants often (not always) have at least a few leaves that are deeply lobed.

Other common names include Brown Betty, Brown Daisy and Donkeyhead.

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