Brown-Eyed Susan

Plant Height 5 ft.
Seed Count 550,000 Seeds per LB
Botanical Name Rudbeckia triloba
Life Cycle Perennial
Environment Full Sun - Partial Sun
Preferred Sites Upland/Grassland
Bloom Period July-October
Flower Color Yellow
Pollinator Value Very Good


This is a biennial or short-lived perennial plant. It branches frequently at the leaf nodes and has a rather bushy appearance when mature. The stems are dark red and have conspicuous white hairs, particularly in the upper half of the plant. The alternate leaves are up to 4" long and 2" across. They are broadly ovate or lanceolate, slightly to coarsely serrated, and have a rough texture. Some of the lower leaves are divided into three lobes. At the end of each upper stem, a single composite flower develops with a daisy-like appearance. It is about 1½-2" across, with 6-12 yellow ray florets surrounding a brown flattened cone of numerous disk florets. The compound flowers have little or no scent. The blooming period occurs for a month or two during mid-summer to late summer. There are usually a half-dozen or more compound flowers in bloom at any given time, creating a showy effect. The achenes are 4-angled and have no tufts of hair. The root system is shallow and fibrous.

CULTIVATION: The preference is full to partial sun, and moist to mesic conditions. A rich loam produces the best growth, although a soil with some gravel or clay is tolerated. This plant has limited drought tolerance, and may drop some of its lower leaves should this occur. After the blooming season is over, Brown-Eyed Susan can appear untidy

RANGE & HABITAT: This is a common plant in Illinois, except for some counties in the South and Northwest. Brown-Eyed Susan occurs occasionally in moist to mesic black soil prairies, brushy thickets, and openings or lightly shaded areas of floodplain forests. It also occurs in some wetland areas, such as fens and lakeside borders, and in some developed areas, such as partially shaded vacant lots and abandoned fields. This plant favors disturbed areas in these various ecosystems.

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