That's how the author of a book on Tennessee wildflowers describes Black-Eyed Susan. Coarsely-hairy! It’s possible that some might find her a less than refined flower. It’s true she has rough leaves and sun-flowery face that might be off-putting. Really, she is just a bit hairy. The hirta in Rudbekia hirta refers to hairs and she has them!
Take a close look at her in this photo, click to enlarge...She is indeed rather hairy. You can clearly see the tiny little hairs along her stem.
But coarse…that’s a bit much! Maybe she doesn’t belong in every garden but she is essential in mine.
Just as purple coneflower and liatris are waning...Black-Eyed Susan step ups to take a bow. Without this native which is often described as annual, biennial or even perennial this garden would look quite bare during late July and August. If I can keep her dead headed and sufficiently watered....she will be with me until the fall asters bloom.
She's happy in almost any aspect, although, a sunny site with adequate water is preferred. She’s a taller plant in full sun; bushier and fuller in shade. One thing you need to know…she is a prolific seeder and scatters her progeny about the gardens with glee.
She's found a home in a shadier bed at the base of Viburnum rufidulum. I leave her here to duke it out with native Columbine, River Oats and Hypericum; all vigorous self seeders.
Here’s Susan in the sunny bed with Black and Blue Salvia, Peachie's Pick Stokesia and Salvia Leucantha (yet to bloom).If you look closely, you can see that there is one flower per stem! Which makes for a very nice display in a vase or for holding her own next to tall plants in the sunny bed.
Don't you love her her black eye! It's a pretty cool cone. The dark cone or disk and golden petals are both florets. Floret is a term that's used with composite flowers. The best example of composite florets is broccoli! A large number of tiny flowers in a grouping that looks like one flower. In Susan's case it's a cone. The disk or cone floret is where all the faunal action takes place. The petal or ray florets are there to attract pollinators. A pretty golden party dress.
She has absolutely no fragrance. But she doesn’t need fragrance to attract bees, wasps, flies, butterflies and beetles for pollination. The bees take up the nectar and collect pollen along the journey. The caterpillar of silvery checkerspot feeds on the leaves. Finches occasionally feed on the seed, but they will fill up on the coneflower seeds first!
This member of the aster family's claim to fame are her sunny rays and dark center....but I celebrate her easy going nature, her long bloom time and her ability to tolerate shade. She may be coarsely–hairy, but she has her charms.
If we make our goal to live a life of compassion and unconditional love, then the world will indeed become a garden where all kinds of flowers can bloom and grow. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross