Plants - Native Plants and Wildflowers

Natural selection: Brown-eyed Susans

Stephen Westcott-Gratton
Photography by
Andreas Trauttmansdorff

This sun-loving yellow bloom adds lots of colour to your late-summer garden

Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba)

* Zone 4
* Native to Ontario and Quebec (south to Texas and Florida)

The genus Rudbeckia is comprised of about 20 species of annual, biennial and perennial plants, all native to North America. Describing its arrival in France from Canada in 1640, botanist John Parkinson (1567-1650) wrote that it “came from the French colony about the river of Canada, and was noursed up by Vespasian Robin, the French King’s Herbalist at Paris, who gave Mr. Tradescant some rootes…”

Rudbeckia was named after the 17th-century father-and-son team of Olaus and Olof Rudbeck—botany professors at Uppsala University in Sweden—by their pupil Linnaeus (the “father of botanical nomenclature”). Echinacea species were once included in the genus Rudbeckia, which is why both still bear the common name “coneflower.”

Brown-eyed Susan is a self-seeding biennial or short-lived perennial, and like most rudbeckias, prefers sites with rich, moist soil in full sun or partial shade.

Fast fact: Rudbeckia make excellent garden plants. Look for them to add bold splashes of gold to the late-summer garden:

Orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida)
* Zone 4
* Native to Ontario and Quebec

Black-eyed Susan (R. hirta)
* Zone 3
* Native from British Columbia to Newfoundland

Cutleaf coneflower (R. laciniata)
* Zone 3
* Native to British Columbia and from Manitoba to Nova Scotia

Sweet coneflower (R. subtomentosa)
* Zone 4
* Native to Ontario and Quebec

Want more information on native plants?
Evergreen, a national charity that makes cities more liveable, has a comprehensive Native Plant Database.

Shot on location at Wildflower Farm.

Read more in Plants and Native Plants and Wildflowers

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