Aster family (Asteraceae)
Description: This is a native biennial or short-lived perennial plant that is about 1-2½' tall. It occasionally branches near the base, with each stem producing a single composite flower. The stems have long white hairs. The alternate leaves are greyish green and covered with small stiff hairs, providing them with a rough texture. The leaves are up to 7" long and 2" across, and lanceolate, oblanceolate, or ovate. Their margins are ciliate and rather smooth, with or without a few blunt teeth. The basal leaves have long hairy petioles, while the middle and upper leaves have short petioles or clasp the stem. The upper stems are long and devoid of leaves, each producing a single composite flower. This flower consists of many dark brown disk florets, forming a flattened cone, surrounded by 8-20 ray florets that are bright yellow (rarely with patches of maroon near the base). The style-tips of the disk florets are slender and pointed. Each composite flower is about 2-3" across, and has no noticeable scent. Black-Eyed Susan blooms primarily from early to mid-summer for about a month, although some plants will bloom during the late summer or fall. The achenes are black, oblong, finely nerved, and without tufts of hair. The root system consists of a central taproot and is without rhizomes this plant reproduces entirely by seed.
Comments: Black-Eyed Susan is an excellent choice for prairie restorations, or the first-year planting of a wildflower garden, as it may bloom during the first year from seed. Sometimes, this plant will reseed itself with such abandon it can become aggressive, but it will lose ground to the longer-lived perennial plants as they mature. Black-Eyed Susan can be distinguished from other Rudbeckia spp. by its lanceolate hairy leaves and the long hairs on the stems; most of the leaves occur toward the base of each stem, and never have lobes. The species Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower) is quite similar in appearance, but usually blooms later, and has style-tips that are shorter and more rounded.