This year my garden exploded literally with Rudbeckia hirta aka Black-eyed Susan (terrible name by the way when you think about it) RRGH! But legend has it, the name did not refer to violence upon Susan but rather it referred to an Old English poem describing a dark eyed woman Susan, looking for the love of her life on a ship going into battle. Pretty interesting huh 😊
So I would say the excessive masses of this particular plant in our gardens, probably had something to do with all of that rain earlier in the season. My Mom and I attend an annual garden tour and this year one of the gardens featured unique and familiar herbs and yes some were in the form of what we would consider typical garden flowers or wildflowers, and guess what? The Black-eyed Susan was featured as a herb in this garden and labelled for its medicinal benefits. I must say out all the herbs we were exposed to in this beautiful garden I did not expect this plant to be on the list, but it is actually an herb!
This plant is in the Asteraceae Family (Aster family) and is to say the least a cheerful and widespread wildflower, for some it is considered an annual for others a short lived perennial. It’s characteristics are bright-yellow, 2-3 inch wide daisy like flowers with dark centers which is it’s claim to fame. They are indigenous to many areas of the United States and were introduced into Europe after Columbus’ visits. They were named by Linnaeus in 1753 , he gave them the Latin name Rudbeckia Hirta after his mentor Olaf Rudbeck and hirta means rough and hairy. The leaves are alternate and mostly basal covered by coarse hairs, so hirta makes sense.
Native Americans used the plant to wash sores and soak swellings, it was a poultice for snake bites, treating worms and for children with colds. A poultice is just a soft, moist mass of material usually made out of plant material or flour. They also used it as a diuretic to increase the flow of urine and extracted juice from the root to treat earaches.
Recent studies state that the extract from the root of this plant can help benefit the immune system and can stimulate higher effects than Echinacea.
Rudbeckia Hirta is the floral emblem of the State of Maryland
and each year this flower shines in full glory for the world to see as a drape made of hundreds of black eyed susans placed on the back of the horse that wins the Preakness; one of the second jewels of the triple crown of horse racing. This year’s winner was War of Will in May of 2019 won at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD. Notice the flowers on the horse, had you ever paid attention to which flower it was before?
In our area it is a annual that self seeds prolifically (therefore we THINK its an perennial but that’s another lesson to be learned 😊) It grows in full sun or partial shade. It is drought, heat and soil tolerant. My kind of plant, LOL!!! Seeds can be planted in the spring after the threat of frost has long gone, seeds can be planted about ¼ inch deep and the seeds germinate in about 2 weeks. Separate plants by at least 8 inches apart. These plants will produce flowers by mid-summer and will continue to bloom until the first hard frost. Now is a great time to harvest seed heads and you could share them at our seed exchange in November. What a great way to share a plant with so many hidden benefits, it definitely makes me look at this plant differently now, it is not only beautiful visually in its massive wonder but beneficial to us as well internally in promoting a healthier immune system. It is for sure listed in my book as a whole body plant to enjoy both in mind, body and soul. Till next time, get out there and get dirty in the garden!
Photo credits: NBC, Chestnutherb, Eden Brothers, Google pics.