Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Black-Eyed Susan - Rudbeckia hirta - Rudbeckie

I have posted briefly about this flower before. Today I will talk about it a bit more in-depth. One of the first things I will say about this species is that it is native to many parts of North America (North American range map here), including Quebec (where the previous post and this post's photographs were taken), but that it has been introduced to British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland & Labrador [1], likely as an ornamental. This plant can be weedy in some situations [2]; the classification likely reflects this plant's ability to spread and colonize new areas.

Rudbeckia hirta - in the insect gardens at the Montreal Botanical Gardens
This species is also frequently referred to as Rudbeckia serotina, but this is no longer an accepted taxonomic designation and R. serotina is considered a synonym of R. hirta (var. pulcherrima) [3,4,5].

Rudbeckia hirta flower bud
Rudbeckia hirta is a useful plant for rehabilitating roadsides, as it is a good plant for erosion management [6]. This flower is also a minor source of food and shelter for a variety of song and game birds [2,6].

Rudbeckia hirta flower
One variety of Rudbeckia hirta is a biennial plant [6,7]. This means that it lives for two years and has a distinct growth phase for each (a bit like Verbascum thapsus, which I will post about at some point when I get some good photos). The first year, it produces a rather unprepossessing basal rosette of leaves, and the second year, the flowering stalk we are familiar with. After flowering and going to seed, the plant dies and the seeds start the whole process over again.

Other varieties of Rudbeckia hirta are simple annuals; they sprout from seed, bloom, go to seed, and die back to start over again.

Rudbeckia hirta flower visited by syrphid fly
This species provides nectar and is attractive to bees and butterflies [8], which would explain why it had been planted in the insect garden at the Montreal Botanical Garden. Also, the seeds are attractive to birds [8].

Rudbeckia hirta flower visited by syrphid fly
It sure is a beauty, isn't it!

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