General: Sunflower family (Asteraceae). Yellow coneflower is a native perennial herb growing from a woody caudex up to one meter or taller. The leaves are pinnantely compound, mostly with five to seven lanceolate segments, with harsh and scurfy surfaces (Bruggen 1976). The disk flowers are usually gray at first becoming brown with age. When the disk heads are crushed, an odor of anise is emitted. Each flower has its own stalk and five to eight yellow, drooping petals arranged in a cone shape.
Distribution: Yellow coneflower ranges from Ontario and New York to Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska, south to Georgia, Arkansas and Oklahoma (Steyermark 1963). For current distribution, please consult the Plant profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
gray-head prairie coneflower, drooping coneflower, pinnate prairie coneflower
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- Anonymous. 1986. List-Based Rec., Soil Conserv. Serv., U.S.D.A. Database of the U.S.D.A., Beltsville. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1103
- Gleason, H. A. 1968. The Sympetalous Dicotyledoneae. vol. 3. 596 pp. In H. A. Gleason Ill. Fl. N. U.S. (ed. 3). New York Botanical Garden, New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1707
- Small, J. K. 1933. Man. S.E. Fl. i–xxii, 1–1554. Published by the Author, New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1515
- Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Fl. Great Plains i–vii, 1–1392. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/637
- Fernald, M. 1950. Manual (ed. 8) i–lxiv, 1–1632. American Book Co., New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1327
- Cronquist, A. J. 1980. Asteraceae. 1: i–xv, 1–261. In Vasc. Fl. S.E. U. S. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1714
This species occurs in prairies, thickets, and borders of woods. It is often found along roadsides and railroad right-of-ways. Yellow coneflower grows best on loam, clay, and sandy soil types that are from medium moisture to dry. It prefers calcareous soils that are neutral pH 6-7, but will grow in sunny locations with well-drained soils, and is often found in wet mesic, mesic and dry mesic sites.
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Propagation by Seed: Ratibida pinnata seeds are best planted in the spring or fall. Generally the seeds does not need any pre-treatment. They can be stratified at 33 to 38ºF for thirty days.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Yellow Coneflower in Illinois
(Bees collect pollen or suck nectar; flies feed on pollen or suck nectar; beetles feed on pollen; other insects suck nectar; some observations are from Graenicher, Moure & Hurd, Reed, and MacRae as indicated below, otherwise they are from Robertson)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp (Gr); Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus (Re), Bombus centralis sn (Gr), Bombus fraternus sn, Bombus griseocallis sn cp (Gr, Re), Bombus ternarius sn cp (Gr), Bombus vagans sn cp (Gr); Anthophoridae (Epeolini): Epeolus bifasciatus sn fq, Triepeolus sp. sn (Re), Triepeolus concavus sn fq, Triepeolus cressonii cressonii sn fq, Triepeolus lunatus concolor sn fq, Triepeolus lunatus lunatus sn fq, Triepeolus remigatus sn fq; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes agilis sn cp fq (Rb, Gr), Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata sn fq, Melissodes boltoniae sn, Melissodes comptoides sn, Melissodes denticulata sn, Melissodes nivea sn, Melissodes rustica sn fq (Rb, Re), Melissodes subillata (Re), Melissodes trinodis sn cp (Rb, Gr), Svastra obliqua obliqua sn cp fq (Rb, Gr, Re), Svastra petulca petulca sn cp; Anthophoridae (Xylocopini): Xylocopa virginica sn (Gr); Megachilidae (Coelioxini): Coelioxys alternata alternata sn, Coelioxys modesta sn, Coelioxys octodentata sn; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn fq (Rb, Re), Megachile centuncularis sn cp (Gr), Megachile inimica sayi sn fq, Megachile latimanus sn cp (Rb, Gr, Re), Megachile mendica sn cp (Rb, Gr), Megachile parallela parallela sn cp fq, Megachile pugnatus sn; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Hoplitis pilosifrons sn
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn (Rb, Gr), Agapostemon texanus texanus sn cp, Agapostemon virescens (Re), Augochloropsis metallica metallica sn, Augochlorella striata (Re), Halictus confusus sn cp (Gr, Re), Halictus ligatus sn cp fq (Rb, Gr, Re), Halictus rubicunda sn cp, Lasioglossum albipennis sn cp (Rb, Re), Lasioglossum connexus sn cp (Gr), Lasioglossum forbesii sn, Lasioglossum perpunctatus (Re), Lasioglossum pilosus (Re), Lasioglossum pruinosus sn, Lasioglossum rowheri (Re), Lasioglossum versatus sn cp; Halictidae (Nomiinae): Nomia nortoni nortoni (MH); Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena chromotricha sn cp (Gr), Andrena rudbeckiae sn cp olg (Rb, Re); Andrenidae (Panurginae): Heterosarus albitarsis sn, Heterosarus nebrascensis (Re)
Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Bembix americana (Rb, Gr, Re), Bembix belfragei (Re), Bembix nubilipennis fq, Bembix sayi (Re), Bicyrtes ventralis (Rb, Gr, Re) fq, Glenostictia pictifrons fq; Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Anacrabro ocellatus, Entomognathus texanus; Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris sp. (Re), Philanthus ventilabris (Re); Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila nigricans, Ammophila pictipennis, Prionyx atrata, Prionyx thomae; Vespidae: Polistes fuscata; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Euodynerus annulatus, Pterocheilus quinquefasciatus, Stenodynerus ammonia, Stenodynerus anormis, Stenodynerus fundatiformis
Empidae: Empis clausa sn; Bombyliidae: Exoprosopa decora sn, Paravilla sp. (Re), Phthiria sp. (Re), Poecilanthrax sp. (Re), Sparnopolius confusus sn, Systoechus vulgaris sn; Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua (Re), Eristalis tenax (Gr), Eristalis transversus (Gr, Re), Sphaerophoria contiqua (Re), Syritta pipiens (Gr), Syrphus sp. (Re), Toxomerus geminatus (Gr), Toxomerus marginatus (Gr, Re); Conopidae: Zodion sp. (Re), Zodion fulvifrons (Gr), Zodion obliquefasciatum sn fq icp; Stratiomyidae: Hedriodiscus binotata fp (Gr); Tachinidae: Gymnoclytia occidua sn; Muscidae: Musca autumnalis (Re); Milichiidae: Eusiphona mira sn fp (Rb, Gr)
Nymphalidae: Limenitis archippus (Gr), Phyciodes tharos; Pieridae: Colias philodice (Gr); Lycaenidae: Everes comyntas, Strymon melinus
Ctenuchidae: Cisseps fulvicollis (Re); Noctuidae: Tarachidia candefacta (Gr)
Buprestidae: Acmaeodora pulchella fp fq (Rb, McR); Cantharidae: Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus fp (Gr, Re); Cerambycidae: Typocerus sinuatus fp np
Miridae: Adelphocoris rapidus (Gr), Lygus lineolaris (Gr)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ratibida pinnata
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 11
Species With Barcodes: 1
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Please consult the Plants Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
Somewhat available through native plant seed sources within its range. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Harvesting of seeds should be done from October through November. The cones should be clipped form the stem and placed into a bucket to rub the seeds off the cone to be used for propagation.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Ethnobotanic: Ratibida pinnata root was used to cure toothache (Fielder 1975).
Landscaping &Wildlife: Yellow coneflower is a strong survivor of former prairies where the majority of the original plants have perished. This is a long live species and is best to plant where there is competition from other plants. The seed heads are eaten by birds in the late fall. The flowers attract several different butterfly species.
Ratibida pinnata is a species of flowering plant in the aster family known by the common names pinnate prairie coneflower, gray-head coneflower, yellow coneflower, and prairie coneflower. It is native to the central and eastern United States and Ontario in Canada.
This species is a perennial herb which can well exceed one meter in height. It has fibrous roots and rhizomes or woody caudices. The rough-haired, glandular leaves are up to 40 centimeters long and are divided into several large lance-shaped or oval lobes. The inflorescences are tall, generally far above the highest leaves. Each flower head contains up to 15 yellow ray florets up to 6 centimeters long. The center of the flower is globular or oval in shape and measures up to 2.5 centimeters long. It is covered in up to 200 or more disc florets which are yellow-green to purplish in color. The disc heads have a scent reminiscent of anise when crushed.
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