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This prolific, sunflower-like perennial grows 3-8 tall, displaying 2-4 inch yellow, daisy-like flowers with green centers (another common name is green-headed coneflower) from late July to October, providing important late nectar and pollen. It’s called cutleaf because its large, droopy leaves have lobes that appear to have been torn. It prefers moist soil, but grows well in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. It tolerates partially shaded areas that are poorly drained and prone to occasional flooding. A rosette of leaves that originate at the base of the stem persists through the winter, creating an attractive winter ground cover. It spreads through rhizomes and is well suited for native gardens and naturalized areas. Leave the seed heads in place to attract birds.


Cutleaf coneflower is often found in woods and woodland borders, moist meadows and thickets, low areas along rivers, on streambanks, and in roadside ditches. It’s an aggressive spreader and is best used in open areas rather than in formal beds with neat edges.


Plant Characteristics:

Grows 3-8’ tall.


Prefers full sun to part shade.


Grows in a variety of well-drained soils; tolerates occasional flooding.


Yellow flowers with 6-12 ray florets bloom July-September. The globed center is greenish and surrounded by tiny, tubular florets that change from yellow to brown.


Dark green leaves are 12” long and wide, becoming gradually smaller as they ascend. Lower leaves have 3-7 large, irregular lobes.


Wildlife Value:

Butterflies are attracted to nectar from the blooms, and finches and other songbirds eat the seeds in the fall. The nectar and pollen of the flowerheads attract many kinds of insects, including long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, predatory wasps, butterflies, skippers, moths, and various kinds of flies. Insects that feed on cutleaf coneflower include the leaf beetle Sumitrosis inequalis, the aphid Uroleucon rudbeckiae, the fruit fly Strauzia intermedia, larvae of the gray-blotched epiblema moth and silvery checkerspot butterfly. The silvery checkerspot butterfly is pictured here with its caterpillars, which feed gregariously (in groups). Other insects that feed on this and other rudbeckia include the larvae of gall flies, larvae of the sawfly Macrophya simillima, and larvae of some Tortricid moths. A host plant for 23 species of Lepidoptera, including five specialist moths, and the wavy-lined emerald (also pictured here) and common pug moths who feed on the florets. Moderately deer resistant.


Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:

Native Americans and the early settlers used this plant. A root tea infusion was made for treating worms and indigestion, the flowers were used as a poultice to treat burns, and plant parts were rubbed on horses to boost their energy. The plant was sold commercially as a diuretic and as a tonic for urinary catarrh and Bright’s disease.


Although they are slightly toxic, young or dried leaves, shoots, and stems are considered edible. The cooked spring leaves were once eaten for general health.


A green dye was made from the flowers.


One of the earliest American species to be exported to England, cutleaf coneflower grew in the garden of King Charles I. 

Coneflower, Cutleaf, Rudbeckia laciniata

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