Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia hirta or Black Eyed Susan is a native wildflower here in Texas, also sometimes called Brown Eyed Susans.  There are several different varieties, but the common characteristics are the yellow petals and the dark brown or black somewhat conical center.  While the Black Eyed Susan is an annual, it reseeds, so it continues to come back year after year.

"Rudbeckia hirta" - McKinney, Texas
Personally I prefer the name Black Eyed Susan to Brown Eyed Susan, even though black eye does evoke images of a girl named Susan who got clocked.  I think it's because that's the name I learned as a kid.  In Texas you will find fields of wildflowers in the summer with Black Eye Susans, Indian Paintbrushes, and Bluebonnets.  Long stretches of highway bordered with seas of blue, red, and yellow.  And more than a few cars stopped on the side of the road with determined mothers struggling with agitated children trying to get that perfect photo of precious Junior in the middle of all that natural beauty.  I also like Black Eyed Susan because it helped me in Botany and Plant ID when coming up with ways to remember the scientific name, Rudbeckia hirta.  Rude Beckie hit Susan and gave her a black eye.  I might just have a bit of a morbid streak.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has teamed up with the University of Texas to create a Native Plant Database.  Here is the link for Rudbeckia hirta (Black Eyed Susan), if you're interested.  If you are ever in the Austin area you should stop by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  They have beautiful varieties of plants and several very interesting displays for home gardens that use a range of landscape materials and styles.  My favorite part, however, is the entrance.  When you walk up to the entrance you will see a huge, stone-clad, column in the center of an alley flanked by smaller columns, all covered in climbing plants.  It's actually a rainwater catchment system.  The central column is a large cistern and the alley is a series of channels that funnel rainwater from the roofs of the buildings into the cistern.  It's hard to describe, but they took something very utilitarian and potentially unattractive, and made it a striking feature!  I tried to convince my parents that they needed something similar, but the expense of the giant cistern and all the stone was a hard sell.  They did end up with no less than 5 rain barrels, so my little, tree hugging heart is pleased.

*"Rudbeckia hirta" is for sale.  Please visit Diggin' It or contact me for information on how to purchase a print.

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