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RUDBECKIA occidentalis

Image of Rudbeckia occidentalis

Family

Asteraceae

Botanical Name

RUDBECKIA occidentalis

Plant Common Name

Black Coneflower, Western Coneflower

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Strange looking but elegant and sophisticated at the same time, the blackened purple and brown flowers of the western coneflower also have modest petal-resembling green sepals (bud leaves). A clumping herbaceous perennial native to the shortgrass prairies and montane meadows of the American West, it attracts butterflies and seed-eating songbrids. Growing from a rhizome (underground stem), it appreciates moisture and usually grows in acidic moist pockets or alongside streams.

The lance-shaped dark green leaves tend to remain on the lower parts of this perennial's stems. Most heavily in early summer, tall and sturdy stems reach skyward, topped by a purplish black cone. Around this egg-shaped disc are green sepals that resemble petals. The cone's tiny flowers open a chocolate-black with gold pollen. Sporadic reblooming can occur across the rest of summer, more so if spent flowers are cut off and used for floral arrangements, fresh or dried. The plant goes dormant once frosts occur, but lingers in the landscape for birds to eat the seeds and snows to collapse the stems. It can also become dormant when drought is severe.

Grow western coneflower in full to partial sun in a moist, acidic to mildly alkaline soil that has adequate drainage. It tolerates both drought and partial shade although flowering is lessened. Try to avoid soggy soils or those that are under shallow water, as in the fluctuating shorelines of shallow retention ponds or always wet rain basins. Use this unique perennial in the mixed cottage or English border, meadow garden or cutting garden. Selections 'Green Giant' and 'Black Beauty' are larger flowering and darker flowering, respectively.

Some nurseries erroneously market the western coneflower as a black coneflower (Echinacea).

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    24"-36" / 61.0cm - 91.4cm

  • Width

    14"-20" / 35.6cm - 50.8cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    Western United States

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Purple, Light Green, Chocolate, Black

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Fruit Color

    Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Alpine, Bog Garden, Cutflower, Mixed Border, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes