40903A flower that is so prominent in American culture should have a more appealing name than black-eyed Susan. Even the Latin name, Rudbeckia hirta, sounds bad. Is Becky really so rude? Did she hirt Susan? Well, black-eyed Susan is good enough to be the state flower of Maryland, and is one of the most popular of flowers for prairie style gardens of the Midwest. After all, it naturally grows wild in every state east of Colorado. Here in the West, it is a light-duty perennial that is more often grown as an annual. As a cut flower, it can last more than a week.

In the wild, the three inch wide flowers of black-eyed Susan are rich yellow with dark brown centers, and can stand as high as three feet. The typically smaller but more abundant flowers of modern varieties can be orange, red or brownish orange, on more compact stems. Gloriosa daisies are fancier cultivars, with larger flowers that are often fluffier (double) or patterned with a second color. Individual plants do not get much wider than a foot, with most of their rather raspy foliage close to the ground. All black-eyed Susans bloom late in summer or early in autumn.

11 thoughts on “Black-Eyed Susan

  1. It’s a wonderful flower and I have a couple of beds in my garden in Switzerland. I also have the special sort that grow 3 feet high and they the the last to flower, usually only in September. I got my first flower last week.

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  2. Now I’m laughing. It’s one of my favorite flowers, but I’d never connected ‘black-eyed’ and ‘hirta.’ That’s wonderful. It was one of the first scientific names I was able to remember; now it’s been impressed even more firmly on my mind.

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    1. As amusing as it is, I used to forget which species it designated. Because they had been uncommon here for so long, black-eyed Susan, blanket flower, cone flower, and various daisy types all sort of looked similar to me.

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