Black Eyed Susan

DSC_0414

Rudbeckia hirta[i]

Wildflowers

One thing I have noticed about nature is that many organisms are rather poorly named: Red Bellied Woodpecker, Gray Tree Frog, Purple Finch, Prairie Warblers: none of those are what I would call well-named. However, I can safely say that the Black Eyed Susan is not among them. Nope. Whoever named it did a pretty damned good job. As anyone can see, the middle of each flower is quite dark, and surrounded by yellow petals. OK, maybe not black, but a very dark brown, which is close enough. And let’s face it: Very Dark Brown Susan just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Though I am not sure where the Susan part of the name came from, but at least the flower wasn’t named Gertrude or Hortense or some other crappy name. Susan, much better. Anyway…

Those yellow and brown flowers, really aren’t a single flower. Nope. Instead, they are a cluster of numerous little flowers on one head.[ii] And those yellow petals aren’t actually petals, but instead are each an individual flower called a “ray flower;[iii]”and those “black eyes” are a bunch of tiny “disk flowers[iv]” and all those disk and ray flowers work together as one unit to attract pollinators and ultimately create the next generation of Black Eyed Susans.[v]

The plant itself grows to be between one and three feet tall,[vi] and blooms late in the season, usually from July to October.[vii] I often find them growing in open fields and roadsides, and the literature supports that.[viii] [ix]

This flower is native to eastern and central North America,[x] but has since spread throughout much of the continent as well as parts of China.[xi] Not only do they grow wild, but are common in gardens throughout the region.[xii] And the cultivated flowers come in many varieties as well as the native wildflower variety as well.[xiii] As the plant is native to our region, they require little care, and have evolved to withstand drought, and other hazards of our climate, just so long as they are in a nice sunny spot, they will be happy.[xiv]

[i] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 412

[ii] Author Unknown “Asteraceae” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteraceae#Floral_heads 21AUG2016

[iii] Author Unknown “Asteraceae” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteraceae#Floral_heads 21AUG2016

[iv] Author Unknown “Asteraceae” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteraceae#Floral_heads 21AUG2016

[v] Author Unknown “Asteraceae” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteraceae#Floral_heads 21AUG2016

[vi]  Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 412

[vii] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 412

[viii] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 412

[ix] Allen, Ray  “Wild American Beauty: The Black Eyed Susan” American Meadows website http://www.americanmeadows.com/about-black-eyed-susans 2016

[x] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 412

[xi] Author Unknown “Black Eyed Susan” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudbeckia_hirta 23AUG2016

[xii] https://www.hiusa.org/ppc/boston?gclid=Cj0KEQjw6O-9BRDjhYXH2bOb8Z4BEiQAWRduk_UtUiU3ZCinsWCRHy5t3g9zJpCmxIj83blvAMZZH1gaAlxM8P8HAQ

[xiii] Allen, Ray  “Wild American Beauty: The Black Eyed Susan” American Meadows website http://www.americanmeadows.com/about-black-eyed-susans 2016

[xiv] Bagdett, Becca “Learn About Black Eyed Susan Care” Gardening Know How http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/black-eyed-susan/black-eyed-susan-flower.htm 2016

 

Photo Credit: me

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