Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

Sweet Coneflower is longer-lived than either Rudbeckia hirta (Black-Eyed Susan) or Rudbeckia triloba (Brown-Eyed Susan). It can be distinguished from these species by the soft fuzzy texture of the leaves and the shiny appearance of the central cone in the flowerhead. It is taller than Black-Eyed Susan and has larger flowers than Brown-Eyed Susan. At favorable locations, Sweet Coneflower has attractive foliage and flowers, otherwise it will appear rather dilapidated. Return
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This native perennial plant branches occasionally and is 2½–4' tall. The central stem and side stems have spreading white hairs, particularly in the upper part of the plant. The alternate leaves are up to 5" long and 2" across. They have a soft texture and are covered with fine white hairs. Their margins are smooth, but ciliate. Some of the lower leaves may be deeply three-lobed, otherwise the leaves are unlobed and lanceolate to broadly lanceolate. The base of the leaves are sessile, clasp the stem, or have short winged petioles. The daisy-like compound flowers occur individually at the ends of major stems. They are about 2½–3½" across, with 6-18 yellow ray florets surrounding a rounded central cone of numerous tiny disk florets. This central cone is reddish brown and often shiny in bright light. The compound flowers have little or no floral scent, although the cones or leaves may produce an anise fragrance if they are torn apart. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer and lasts about a month or slightly longer. The dark slender achenes are without tufts of hair. The root system is shallow and fibrous, occasionally producing rhizomes.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Sweet Coneflower occurs occasionally in the majority of counties in Illinois; it is more common in northern and central Illinois than southern Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include moist black soil prairies, sand prairies, savannas, thickets, openings in floodplain forests, woodland borders, partially shaded gravelly seeps, riverbanks, and roadside ditches. This species is usually found in higher quality habitats. It is sometimes cultivated in gardens. Faunal Associations
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Perennials, to 200 cm (rhizomatous, rhizomes stout). Stems densely hirsute (hairs mostly antrorse, to 0.5 mm). Leaves: blades ovate to elliptic (not lobed), margins denticulate to serrate, apices acute to obtuse or acuminate, faces densely hirsute and gland-dotted (glands fewer adaxially); basal 15–30 × 3–10 cm, bases attenuate; cauline petiolate, ovate to elliptic, proximal 3–25 × 1–15 cm, usually 3–5-lobed, bases truncate to cuneate or rounded. Heads (8–25) in loose, corymbiform to paniculiform arrays. Phyllaries to 1.5 cm (faces hairy and ± gland-dotted). Receptacles conic to hemispheric; paleae 4–6 mm, apices acute, abaxial tips hirsute and gland-dotted. Ray florets 10–16; laminae (yellow to yellow-orange) linear to oblanceolate, 20–40 × 5–8 mm, abaxially sparsely hairy, abundantly gland-dotted. Discs 10–17 × 5–15 mm. Disc florets 200–400+; corollas yellowish green on basal 1/2, otherwise brown-purple, 3–4.2 mm; style branches ca. 1 mm, apices acute. Cypselae 2–3.5 mm; pappi coroniform, to ca. 0.2 mm. 2n = 38.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Sweet Coneflower occurs occasionally in the majority of counties in Illinois; it is more common in northern and central Illinois than southern Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include moist black soil prairies, sand prairies, savannas, thickets, openings in floodplain forests, woodland borders, partially shaded gravelly seeps, riverbanks, and roadside ditches. This species is usually found in higher quality habitats. It is sometimes cultivated in gardens. Faunal Associations
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Sweet Coneflower in Illinois

Rudbeckia subtomentosa (Sweet Coneflower)
(Bees collect pollen or suck nectar; beetles usually feed on pollen, otherwise they suck nectar; flies mostly suck nectar; other insects suck nectar; observations are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp fq; Anthophoridae (Epeolini): Epeolus bifasciatus sn, Triepeolus lunatus concolor sn; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes rustica sn, Melissodes trinodis sn cp fq, Svastra obliqua obliqua sn cp fq, Svastra petulca petulca sn cp; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn fq, Megachile campanulae campanulae sn, Megachile inimica sayi sn cp, Megachile parallela parallela sn, Megachile petulans sn cp fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Halictus confusus sn cp fq, Halictus ligatus sn cp fq, Halictus parallelus sn, Lasioglossum albipennis sn cp, Lasioglossum coreopsis sn cp, Lasioglossum coriaceus sn, Lasioglossum imitatus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum pectoralis sn cp fq, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum zephyrus sn; Andrenidae (Panurginae): Heterosarus albitarsis sn cp, Heterosarus rudbeckiae sn cp fq olg, Heterosarus solidaginis sn cp fq

Wasps
Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Bembix nubilipennis, Bicyrtes ventralis fq, Glenostictia pictifrons; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi, Ammophila nigricans fq, Ammophila pictipennis fq, Eremnophila aureonotata, Prionyx atrata, Prionyx thomae; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Euodynerus annulatus fq, Euodynerus boscii, Pterocheilus quinquefasciatus, Stenodynerus anormis fq; Tiphiidae: Myzinum quinquecincta; Scoliidae: Scolia bicincta; Ichneumonidae: Ceratogastra ornata

Flies
Syrphidae: Eristalis stipator sn fq, Eristalis transversus sn fq, Orthonevra nitida sn, Sphaerophoria contiqua sn, Syritta pipiens sn, Toxomerus geminatus sn, Toxomerus marginatus sn fp fq, Toxomerus politus sn; Empidae: Empis clausa sn fq; Bombyliidae: Exoprosopa decora sn, Exoprosopa fascipennis sn fq, Lepidophora lepidocera sn, Pthiria cincta sn fq (Coquillett, MS), Sparnopolius confusus sn fq, Systoechus vulgaris sn fq, Tmenophlebia aldrichi sn, Toxophora amphitea sn; Conopidae: Thecophora occidensis sn, Zodion obliquefasciatum sn; Tachinidae: Clausicella floridensis sn, Cylindromyia euchenor sn, Cylindromyia fumipennis sn, Gymnoclytia occidua sn fq, Leucostoma simplex sn, Phasia purpurascens sn, Plagiomima spinosula sn fq, Siphona geniculata sn, Spallanzania hesperidarum sn fq, Tachinomyia panaetius sn; Anthomyiidae: Leucophora siphonina sn; Sarcophagidae: Sphixapata trilineata sn; Muscidae: Neomyia cornicina sn; Milichiidae: Eusiphona mira sn; Chloropidae: Olcella cinerea sn

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Chlosyne nycteis, Limenitis archippus, Phyciodes tharos fq; Lycaenidae: Celastrina argiolus, Everes comyntas, Lycaena hyllus, Strymon melinus; Pieridae: Colias philodice, Pontia protodice

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Polites themistocles

Moths
Ctenuchidae: Cisseps fulvicollis

Beetles
Cantharidae: Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus sn; Cerambycidae: Batyle suturale fp; Curculionidae: Odontocorynus scutellum-album fp

Plant Bugs
Miridae: Adelphocoris rapidus, Lygus lineolaris; Pentatomidae: Euschistus ictericus; Rhopalidae: Harmostes reflexulus

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun and moist to mesic conditions (moist if located in a sunny spot). Tolerance of shade is better than most plants that occur in prairies, while tolerance of dry, sunny locations is poor. The soil should consist of loam with abundant organic matter, although a little gravel or sand is not harmful. This plant seems to resist powdery mildew better than other Rudbeckia spp., such as Rudbeckia hirta (Black-Eyed Susan).
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Notes

Comments

Rudbeckia subtomentosa is often cultivated as an ornamental.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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