Ratibida columnifera 'Buttons and Bows'
Common Name: long-head coneflower 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: Golden-edged rusty rays and brown center disks
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.

'Buttons and Bows' features pinnately divided leaves (to 5" long) on stiff stems typically growing 2-2.5' tall. The composite flowers have a distinctive brown to purplish-brown central disk in the shape of an elongated cylinder (2" long) which somewhat resembles the crown of a slender sombrero. Attached to the bottom of the disk is a brim of 6-14, downward pointing, rust-colored ray flowers which are edged in gold. Species name of columnifera refers to the columnar center disc, and species is commonly called Mexican hat. Long summer bloom period.


No serious insect or disease problems.

Tends to flop and may need staking or other support.

Garden Uses

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