With their dark brown central disk and yellow rays, if there is one common wildflower that the majority of people could probably recognize it's the Black-eyed Susan.
|Black-eyed Susan in a meadow habitat|
Bloom Time: July – September
Black-eyed Susans are not the only Rudbeckia species that can be found in Mid-Michigan. The Thin-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba) is found in the same types of dry habitats as R. hirta. I find it to be more common in shaded habitats than the Black-eyed Susan. Its overall range is considerably smaller than that of the Black-eyed Susan. It can be found in east of a extending from Ontario southwest to Texas, with two small populations in Colorado and Utah
Also known as the Brown-eyed Susan, R. triloba also has brown disk flowers surround by yellow rays. However, the flowers of the Thin-leaved Coneflower are smaller (1.5-2.0 inches across) and more numerous than than those of the Black-eyed Susan (2.0-3.0 inches across).
A third species of Rudbeckia that is common across Michigan is the Cut-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia lanciniata). Also known as the Tall Coneflower, this species can reach heights of 3 to 12 feet. Unlike the R. hirta and R. triloba, the Cut-leaved Coneflower prefers wet habitats such as floodplains, wet woodlands, and swamps. Its range is similar to that of the Black-eyed Susan, being found in 45 states and 8 Canadian provinces. Like most other Rudbeckia species the Cut-leaved Coneflower blooms consist of yellow rays surrounding a central disk - the disk flowers are yellowish green. Each bloom can be 3 to 4 inches across. The rays on the Cut-leaved Coneflower tend to droop more than those of other Rudbeckia species.
|Bee on Cut-leaved Coneflower|
|Cut-leaved Coneflower in a Cedar Swamp|
Bloom Time: July – October
Two other species of Rudbeckia have been recorded in Michigan: R. fulgida (Showy Coneflower) and R. subtomentosa (Sweet Coneflower). R. Fulgida can be found in wet habitats across the southern third of Michigan. A single record of R. Subtomentosa was recorded in Gratiot County in 1894.