COMPOSITE FAMILY - Compositae: Black-eyed Susan; Yellow or Ox-eye Daisy; Nigger-head; Golden Jerusalem; Purple Cone-flower

Rudbeckia hirta

Flower-heads--From 10 to 20 orange-yellow neutral rays around a conical, dark purplish-brown disk of florets containing both stamens and pistil. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. tall, hairy, rough, usually unbranched, often tufted. Leaves: Oblong to lance-shaped, thick, sparingly notched, rough.

Preferred Habitat--Open sunny places; dry fields.

Flowering Season--May-September.

Distribution--Ontario and the Northwest Territory south to Colorado and the Gulf states.

So very many weeds having come to our Eastern shores from Europe, and marched farther and farther west year by year, it is but fair that black-eyed Susan, a native of Western clover fields, should travel toward the Atlantic in bundles of hay whenever she gets the chance, to repay Eastern farmers in their own coin. Do these gorgeous heads know that all our showy rudbeckias--some with orange red at the base of their ray florets--have become prime favorites of late years in European gardens, so offering them still another chance to overrun the Old World, to which so much American hay is shipped? Thrifty farmers may decry the importation into their mowing lots, but there is a glory to the cone-flower beside which the glitter of a gold coin fades into paltry nothingness. Having been instructed in the decorative usefulness of all this genus by European landscape gardeners, we Americans now importune the Department of Agriculture for seeds through members of Congress, even Representatives of States that have passed stringent laws against the dissemination of "weeds." Inasmuch as each black-eyed Susan puts into daily operation the business methods of the white daisy, methods which have become a sort of creed for the entire composite horde to live by, it is plain that she may defy both farmers and legislators. Bees, wasps, flies butterflies, and beetles could not be kept away from an entertainer so generous; for while the nectar in the deep, tubular brown florets may be drained only by long, slender tongues, pollen is accessible to all. Any one who has had a jar of these yellow daisies standing on a polished table indoors, and tried to keep its surface free from a ring of golden dust around the flowers, knows how abundant their pollen is. The black-eyed Susan, like the English sparrow, has come to stay--let farmers and law-makers do what they will.