Black-Eyed Susans

2016 January 23

While these were photographed in the woods west of the house on August 19, 2015, they bloom pretty much continuously from around the middle of July until the early part of September.

They are Black-Eyed Susans, Rudbeckia hirta. They are quite plentiful around here in sunny, grassy areas. Like a lot of other daisy-type wildflowers, the stalks and leaves are not terribly noticeable, and if it weren’t for the rather long-lived blossoms the plants would probably be overlooked completely.

Like other plants in the Asteraceae[1] family, the flower head is actuall not a single flower, but a composite of numerous flowers. Each of the long, yellow petals is an individual non-seed-forming flower,

while the brown core is a tightly-packed clump of the flowers that will actually set seed. These core blossoms don’t all bloom at once, they seem to start blooming around the edge and then work their way to the middle (this next one looks to be about 3/4 of the way through its blooming cycle).

Because of the way that they bloom, the flowers persist for weeks, which makes them popular ornamental plants. Black-Eyed Susans are native to North America, and have been domesticated as one of the flowers commonly known as “coneflowers”, because of the way their petals often fold back to form a cone shape. While I didn’t get any such pictures, these are one of the kinds of flowers that make a good place for photographing butterflies and other insects that come to flowers. The flowers produce quite a bit of nectar (so insects that land on them usually stay reasonably still while they feed), and stand up well clear of the ground so that you can get a picture without much background interference.

[1] We’re going to be seeing a lot of the Asteraceae. This is possibly the largest family of flowering plants as far as the number of species (approximately tied with the orchids), and many of the species are common in temperate climates like northern Michigan.

One Response
  1. Carole permalink
    January 23, 2016

    I get Camouflaged loopers on my black-eyed susans. I’ve read they must add new camouflage each time they molt. One writer suggested offering flower pieces from a different plant, but I didn’t have any takers when I offered white petals. They become Wavy-lined Emeralds

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