Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

Green-Headed Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)

These giant cousins of the Black-Eyed Susan (R. hirta) can grow twice the height of a man if they put their minds to it. They are magnificent and unmistakable in at least two important ways:

1. The flower heads, with green disk florets and pale yellow somewhat reflexed rays.

2. The lower leaves, which are large, deeply divided, and attached to the stem on broad winged petioles.

The flowers above were growing along a gravel road through the woods near Cranberry; the ones to the right were growing in the woods at the edge of a cemetery near Export. Both were blooming in late August.

Note that Gray’s description below puts the height at 2 m at most, but other sources mention that this species can grow up to 12 ft. (about 4 m), and the plants in the photograph at right were at least 9 ft. (3 m) tall.

RUDBECKIA L. CONE-FLOWER. Heads many-flowered, radiate ; the rays neutral. Bracts of the involucre leaf-like, in about 2 rows, spreading. Receptacle conical or column ir ; the short chaff concave, not rigid. Achenes 4-angled (in our species), smooth, not margined, flat at the top, with no pappus, or a minute crown-like border. — Chiefly perennial herbs, with alternate leaves, and showy terminal heads; the rays generally long, yellow, often darker at base. (Named in honor of the Professors Rudbeck, father and son, predecessors of Linnaeus at Upsal.)

Achenes annular; chaff persisting in age.

Disk columnar in fruit, dull greenish-yellow.

Leaves divided or cut.

R. laciniàta L. Stem smooth, branching, 0.5-2 m. high; leaves smooth or roughish, the lowest pinnate, witli 5-7-cut or 3-lobed leaflets ; upper leaves irregularly 3-5-parted, their lohes ovate-lanceolate, pointed, or the uppermost undivided ; heads long-pedunclod ; disk at first globular or hemispherical ; chaff truncate, downy at tip ; rays oblanceolate, 3-5 cm. long, drooping. — Low thickets, w. Me. and w. Que., westw. and southw. July-Sept.

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One response

  1. chaparroc

    We picked up one of these plants at Sylvania Natives and it is indeed very tall and the goldfinches love the flowerheads.

    May 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm

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