Botanical Name: Ratibida pinnata
Common Name: Prairie Coneflower, Gray-Headed Coneflower, Yellow Coneflower, Gray-headed Mexican Hat, Pinnate Prairie Coneflower
Description: Beautiful Florida native perennial wildflower with yellow flowers that you need in your garden.
From early to late summer, the stems are topped by multitudes of lovely flower heads. Each head has 6-15 drooping yellow ray florets and is held on an 8” leafless stalk. The rays surround an oblong cone that is greenish turning ashy gray and brown. The cone contains hundreds of tiny disc florets. Cones matures into dense gray egg shaped heads full of small brown hair-less achenes. The drooping rays and cones have an anise scent when crushed. It quickly grows to 2-5′ tall x 2′ wide. It likes to reseed itself. Is easily grown in sunny sites with moist, average, or somewhat dry soils. Plants tolerate part sun, heat, drought, seasonal flooding, controlled burns, disturbance, and sandy, clay or calcareous soils.
It has ridged hairy stems and vigorous fibrous roots. Plants arise from stout rhizomes to form clumps with numerous branched flowering stems. Basal leaves are 5-8” long and are pinnately divided with 3-9 narrow irregular lobes. A few small lance shaped leaves occur higher on the stems. Foliage is covered with short bristly hairs and dotted with glands.
Prairie Coneflower is a valuable food source for native bees. Wasps, beetles, flies, and butterflies also visit the flowers. Plants host caterpillars of Silvery Checkerspot butterflies and of several moths. Goldfinches eat the seed. Groundhogs, livestock, and other herbivores browse the foliage.
Plants are fairly pest resistant. They are frequently consumed by livestock, however, and tend to decline in areas where grazing is heavy.
Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water. Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray.
This plant in 1-gallon containers is 1-2′ tall.
Plant Lore: The species was formerly known as Rudbeckia pinnata. The similar species Rudbeckia hirta has stiff horizontal rays, unscented cones and un-lobed lance shaped basal leaves.
Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 10