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Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

By: Marissa Joya

Rudbeckia hirta pictured on USFCA Lone Mountain

Rudbeckia hirta also known as black-eyed susan is a plant with bright yellow flowers with a dark center. This plant is native to Eastern and Central North America. It has since been naturalized in Western North America and in China. This plant is the state flower of Maryland, likely because of its exceptional beauty.

Rudbeckia hirta is ornamental meaning it is used in landscaping for aesthetic reasons. This plant is highly deer resistant, which adds to its appeal for ornamental use. Rudbeckia hirta also has many positive impacts on the surrounding environment. It attracts butterflies and birds. Rudbeckia hirta has a long bloom time and produces nectar that is eaten by bees, butterflies, and insects. Rudbeckia hirta also produces seeds that can be eaten by granivorous birds, such as finches. The bees, butterflies, and insects who eat this plant’s nectar may also attract birds.

Rudbeckia hirta also has medicinal uses. Native Americans have used this plant to make herbal medicines. Tea made with the root of Rudbeckia hirta can be used to treat worms, colds, sores, snakebites, and swelling. A juice made with the root of this plant can be used to treat earaches.

Interestingly, the name hirata part of the plant's scientific name, means hairy in latin. Rudbeckia hirta has many trichomes on its leaves and stems so it appears and feels hairy.

Rudbeckia hirta is very easy to grow and is very drought and heat tolerant. This plant can grow in a variety of soils as well. Rudbeckia hirta is thus a very good plant to grow in California. This plant can spread if not given sufficient competition.

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