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This showy, daisy-like perennial with branched stems and ovate to elliptical dark green leaves grows to about 3 feet tall in full sun and a variety of average to moist soils. In dry, sunny sites, there is a tendency for the leaves to wilt and the flower heads may not develop properly. In addition to being self-seeding, the plants spread by rhizomes to form large clumps. The species name, fulgida, means "shining or glistening," which describes the appearance of the brilliant, yellowish-orange ray petals.


Fen black-eyed Susan is native in areas from New York to West Virginia and west to Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas. The wild form is not commonly sold because of the extreme popularity of its ornamentally upscale cultivar, ‘Goldsturm.’ This wildflower requires cross-pollination with genetically distinct plants to produce viable seeds.


Native habitats include swamps, shorelines, fens, and sedge meadows.


Rudbeckia fulgida varies in appearance from one site to another, which has led to consistent taxonomic problems. Some authorities classify R. fulgida as a single species consisting of several varieties, while others regard it as a complex of several closely related species. Here, fen black-eyed Susan is treated as a variety of R. fulgida. Fen black-eyed Susan may be distinguished from the other varieties by its larger flower heads (typically 2-3" across) and the shape of its leaves. 


Plant Characteristics:

Grows 1-1/2 to 3' tall.


Prefers full to part sun.


Grows in moist to average, loamy or rocky soils.


Blooms mid-summer to fall. Each flowerhead has 10-20 yellow to orange-yellow, notched-tipped ray florets surrounding tiny, purplish disk florets. 


Wildlife Value:

Host plant for 23 species of Lepidoptera larvae, including blackberry looper moth, wavy-lined emerald, sunflower moth, and common Eupithecia. Nectar and pollen attract bees (leaf-cutting, andrenid, halictid), small butterflies and skippers, various flies (especially syrphid and bee flies), and sometimes beetles (soldier beetles, weevils).  Deer and rabbits browse the foliage.


Full profile coming soon!



Illinois Wildflowers:

North Carolina Extension:

US Perennials:

World of Flowering Plants:

Susan, Fen Black-Eyed, Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii

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