Gray-headed cone flower is a native perennial with a long, slender, slightly rigid stem. It has irregularly shaped basal leaves that occur at the bottom of the stems. The rhizomatous root system forms tight clumps of plants. It blooms for approximately 1-2 months during the early to late summer. Gray-headed cone flower is easy to grow and prefers full sun, mesic conditions, and loam or clay-loam soil. It is a robust plant that will tolerate partial sun, many soils, and moist to slightly dry conditions. In Illinois it is fairly common with the exception of some counties in the southeast part of the state and tends to colonize the more disturbed areas within its habitats. It is found inhabiting thickets, woodland borders, limestone glades, areas along railways, and several prairies including moist to slightly dry black soil, clay and particularly remnant prairies. Its flowers attract bees, wasps, flies, beetles, and small butterflies which suck the nectar out. Bees collect the pollen while caterpillars of butterflies and moths feed on the flower. The seeds are eaten occasionally by goldfinches. The foliage and flowering stems are consumed by groundhogs and livestock.