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Black-eyed Susan


Common Name Black-eyed Susan

Latin Name: Rudbeckia hirta

[Pronounced: "rude-BECK-ee-ah HIRT-a"]

Type of Plant: Prairie Forb ("wildflower")

Identification Helps: Yellow flowers, with dark "eyes," on low 16-24 inch plants. A common wildflower often found in non-prairie areas.

Similar Species: There are several other species of Rudbeckia, but these tend to flower in late summer or autumn.

Preferred Growing Conditions in the Wild: Black-eyed susans grow commonly in many open environments, particularly in ditches and un-mowed meadows. It often grows in poor, dry soils.

Seasons of Growth and Bloom: The species blooms from late June through August or later.

Natural Distribution in Ohio: Black-eyed susans grow commonly in all Ohio counties.


Description and General Information: This yellow-flowered forb is easy to identify. See the photo above.

Many might question if this is an authentic prairie species. There is no doubt that in presettlement times, Rudbeckia hirta grew on disturbed prairie areas. It is one of the few prairie species that successfully colonized open, non-prairie areas. Therefore, today it is a common Ohio wildflower.

The species is a short-lived perennial, often living only two or three years. It produces copious amounts of seed and quickly re-seeds itself.

If you plant a personal prairie, should you include black-eyed susans? Yes, they are authentic prairie plants. But don't expect them to persist. They grow only in disturbed areas, or sites without competitive taller grasses.