Rudbeckia triloba

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: brown-eyed Susan 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Central-eastern United States
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to October
Bloom Description: Yellow rays with brown-purple center disk
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought


This biennial or short-lived perennial is easily grown in average, moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade, but plants may need support if grown in too much shade. Best in moist, organically rich soils. Tolerates heat, some drought and a somewhat wide range of soils. May be grown from seed started indoors in early spring or sown directly in the garden after last frost date. Set out seedlings or purchased plants at last spring frost date. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage additional bloom and/or to prevent any unwanted self-seeding. Whether or not plants survive from one year to the next, they freely self-seed and will usually remain in the garden and naturalize through self-seeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rudbeckia triloba, commonly called brown-eyed Susan, is a coarse, weedy, somewhat hairy, clump-forming, densely-branched biennial or short-lived perennial that is native from New England to Minnesota south to Georgia and Oklahoma. In Missouri, it typically occurs in wet woods along streams, alluvial thickets, rocky slopes at the base of bluffs and along roadsides throughout the state except for the far southeastern corner (Steyermark). This is a densely-branched plant that typically grows to 2-3’ (less frequently to 5’) tall. Daisy-like flowers (to 1 1/2” diameter) featuring 6-12 yellow rays and brown-purple center disks bloom profusely from summer to fall. Leaves are thin and rough-textured on both sides. Some of the leaves are 3-lobed (less frequently 5- or 7-lobed). Lower leaves are ovate to ovate-cordate with long petioles, and upper leaves are less rounded and sessile. Other common names for this plant include thin-leaved coneflower (for thin leaves) and three-lobed coneflower (for three-lobed leaves and species name). This plant is in part distinguished from black-eyed Susan (R. hirta) by having a more profuse bloom of smaller flowers that usually have fewer rays per flowerhead.

Genus name honors Olof Rudbeck (1630-1702) Swedish botanist and founder of the Uppsala Botanic Garden in Sweden where Carl Linnaeus was professor of botany.

Specific epithet means three-lobed.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to powdery mildew. Watch for slugs and snails on young plants.


A native wildflower that is an excellent addition to naturalized areas, wildflower meadows, prairies, cottage gardens, native plant gardens and borders.