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Black-eyed Susan

Common Name: Black-eyed Susan.

Scientific Name: Rudbeckia Hirta.

What to look for?  Beautiful yellow flowers with a dark center during the early summer! The Black-eyed Susan generally has a single, tall stem. The leaves are ovate and grayish green. The upper stems are long and devoid of leaves and culminate in a single composite flower. Each flower consists of many dark brown disk florets, forming a flattened cone (“black-eyed”). This dark disk is surrounded by upwards of twenty, bright yellow ray florets. The center disk becomes a head of dry, dark brown-black seeds or achenes. The seeds are oblong, and, unlike many plant seeds, without tufts of hair. The root system consists of a central taproot, but there are no rhizomes. The Black-eyed Susan reproduces entirely by seed.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Colonies and individual Black-eyed Susans may be found off the pathway between the Carillon Stonegate Ponds. There are also colonies at the restored prairie at Stonegate Park.

How big are they? Black-eyed Susans may grow from one (1) to two (2) feet tall. The ovate leaves are approximately six (6) inches long and two (2) inch across. Each flower is about two (2) to three (3) inches across.

Where do they grow and thrive? The native Black-eyed Susan occurs throughout Illinois and across the U.S. and into Canada. These plants thrive in prairies, upland forests, savannas, limestone glades, pastures and abandoned fields, and areas along railroads and roadsides.

When do they bloom? The blooming period of the Black-eyed Susan is primarily from early to mid-summer for about a month; some plants may bloom during the late summer or fall.

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The flowers of the Black-eyed Susan attract a wide range of insects, particularly bees and flies, as well as some wasps, butterflies, and beetles. The seeds are eaten occasionally by goldfinches.

Interesting Facts About the Black-eyed Susan:

  • Black-Eyed Susan is an excellent choice for prairie restorations.

  • Genus name honors Olof Rudbeck (1630-1702) Swedish botanist and founder of the Uppsala Botanic Garden in Sweden where Carl Linnaeus was professor of botany.

  • Species name of hirta means hairy in reference to the short bristles that cover the leaves and stems.

  • Black-eyed Susan is known as a pioneer plant, meaning that it is one of the first plants to grow in areas decimated by fire and other natural disasters.

For more information on the Black-eyed Susan and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Minnesota Wildflowers.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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