Ratibida columnifera

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Mexican hat plant 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: Yellow rays and dark brown center disk
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates drought, light shade and somewhat poor soils. Intolerant of moist heavy clays. May be grown from seed, but will not flower until the second year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ratibida columnifera, commonly called long-headed coneflower or prairie coneflower, is an erect, hairy, clump-forming plant that typically grows to 1-3’ tall. It ranges from Alberta to Minnesota south to Arkansas, New Mexico and Mexico. It is most common on the Great Plains. In Missouri, it is uncommonly found in prairies, waste ground and along railroads and highways (Steyermark). This is an aster family member that is perhaps most noted for the long, cylindrical, center disk of each flower and its deeply cut leaves.. Flowers bloom in summer. Each flower features a long narrow center disk (cone to 2” long) with 3-7 drooping yellow rays at the base. Leaves (to 5” long) are pinnately lobed. Ray flowers of R. columnifera forma columnifera are yellow, but the rays of the less common R. columnifera forma pulcherrima are brownish purple. Cylindrical center disks are dark brown and somewhat resemble in shape the crown of a slender sombrero, hence the additional common name of Mexican hat.

Genus name of uncertain origin.

Specific epithet refers to these columnar center disks.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Sunny borders, rock gardens, native plant areas, meadows and prairies. Best grouped or massed because individual plants tend to appear somewhat sparse because of the leaves.