605 Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantiiCommon Names: orange coneflower, black eyed Susan Family: Asteraceae (aster/daisy Family)
Orange coneflower is a showy daisy-like perennial to 3 ft (0.9 m) tall with branched stems and long-petioled ovate or lance-shaped basal leaves to 5 in (13 cm) long and half as wide. The stem leaves are smaller, with short petioles and get progressively smaller up the stems. The leaves and stems are hairy, and the leaves have prominent veins. The numerous flower heads are a little less than 3 in (7.6 cm) across, with purple-brown disk florets and 10-20 brilliant yellow-orange ray florets. Orange coneflower spreads by underground stems called rhizomes and forms large clumps.
The cultivar, 'Goldsturm' is not as tall as the species and has flower heads to 4 in (10 cm) across. Selected by a German nursery in 1937, it is now one of the most popular perennials in the world. However, because commercial growers could not keep up with the demand for this popular flower, they resorted to selling the seeds which produce orange coneflowers that are more like the species (taller, with smaller flower heads) than the true 'Goldsturm'.
Depending on which authority you consult, there are two to four other varieties of orange coneflower occurring in the wild. These generally are less showy than var. sullivantii and are rarely cultivated.
All of the eastern US is blessed with one or more varieties of orange coneflower, Rudbeckia fulgida. Variety sullivantii occurs in the NE, from Connecticut to West Virginia and west to Michigan and Missouri.
CultureOrange coneflower is easy to grow, thriving in any but soggy soils. Light: Does best in full sun, but tolerates partial shade. Moisture: Does best in moist soil. Water before the soil dries out. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 - 9. Propagation: The species is propagated by seed or division of the clumps. Divide the clumps in fall. The cultivar, 'Goldsturm' can be propagated only by division, but nurseries offer seeds labeled as 'Goldsturm', and these are quite acceptable.
Orange coneflower produces masses of golden color all summer long. It can be one of the most important flowers in the perennial garden. Use it in borders and in natural butterfly or meadow gardens. The long, strong stems make orange coneflower ideal for cutting which actually encourages reblooming.
There are several genera in the huge sunflower family that have species called coneflowers. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and prairie coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) are well known to gardeners. There are about 25 species of Rudbeckia, all native to North America. The popular black-eyed Susan is Rudbeckia hirta.
Steve Christman 12/11/99; updated 8/15/03, 9/23/03