Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
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  • Yellow Coneflower

    SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ratibida pinnata

    COMMON NAME: Yellow Coneflower, Grey-headed Coneflower, Pinnate Prairie Coneflower, Grayhead Mexican Hat, Drooping Coneflower, Weary Susan

    BLOOM TIME: July, Aug, Sept

    Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie credit: R. Kapala


    • Slender, hairy stems up to 5 ft. tall with each flower head having its own stalk.
    • 5-10 yellow ray flowers droop downward about 2 in. long, circling a conical disk about ¾ in. tall.
    • Disk starts out grey and turns to a grey, where it gets another common name of grey-headed coneflower.
    • Crushed seeds have a distinct anise (licorice) or some say a minty scent.
    • Common in north ¾ of state.
    • Habitat: prairies & savannas, full sun to part shade, medium to dry-medium soil.
    • Roots 18 in. to 5 ft. deep, making plant drought tolerant.
    • Easy to transplant.
    • Native Americans made tea from flowers & leaves.
    • Mesquakie used the root to cure toothaches.
    • Pioneers used like cedar chips to protect clothing from insect in storage.
    • Also used to scent mattresses & deter insects.


    • Many kinds of insects visit the flowers.
    • Bees, including Cuckoo bees, large Leaf-Cutting bees, Green Metallic bees, & other Halictine bees suck nectar & collet pollen.
    • Insect visitors like asps, flies, small butterflies suck nectar. Some beetles feed on pollen.
    • Caterpillars of Silvery Checkerspot butterfly & or moths feed on Yellow Coneflower.
    • Goldfinches occasionally eat seeds.
    • Some mammalian herbivores eat foliage & flowering stems, particularly groundhogs & livestock.