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Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta

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Black-Eyed Susan

This pretty native of the Eastern U.S. has earned a favored place in many of our home gardens, because it grows easily, spreads easily, and tolerates heat, dry and poor soil. Near Asheville, you can find it growing wild, from low roadsides to the high open sunny woodlands of Craggy Gardens.

Even if you aren't the household gardener, you can still easily distinguish it from other yellow composites by two characteristics: it has a deep brown raised cone, and the entire plant is very hairy.

Black-eyed Susan closeupBlack-Eyed Susan grows in a dense cluster of stalks springing from the base - each stalk carries many sessile, alternate leaves, but only one blossom at its tip. There are no basal leaves. Each leaf is as hairy as the stalks, oval shaped, and mostly without any detectable teeth or serration. The blossoms consist of 10-20 (usually 13-15) infertile ray flowers, and a very 3-dimensional (as tall as it is wide) center of dark brown fertile disk flowers. The rays do not have any notches at their tips. The plants average 18"-24" in height.

There is only one other local, native member of the Coneflower genus that looks like this one : the Thin-Leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba) - but the Thin-Leaved is an airy, many-branched, entirely smooth plant with smaller, flatter flowers.

A note on the nomenclature (naming conventions) on this site: Scientific names and classifications are constantly being argued and changed, and it drives me nuts. Although I use many different sources for knowledge, for naming consistency  I  use the  "Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" by Radford, Ahles and Bell, 1968 edition. This book is a well-established authority for the plants of our region and I've been using it for years. If for some reason I must use a different source for a particular plant, I will make note of it within the descriptive text. Don't like it? Tough!

Fiona Dudley
986 Reems Creek Road
Weaverville NC 28787


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