Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Yellow coneflower

Scientific name
Ratibida columnifera
Also Known As
Prairie coneflower, upright prairie coneflower, Mexican hat
Plant Family
Plant Group
This plant is easily distinguished by the 4-11 yellow to maroon droopy ray flowers (the petal-like parts) that surround the gray or grayish-green, tall, cylindrical group of disk flowers in the middle. The colorful flowers resemble the broad-brimmed, high-centered hat worn during Mexican fiestas; hence the common name, "Mexican hat."
Identification Hints

Yellow coneflower can be found in upland prairies, roadsides, areas along railroads, and barren waste areas. They stand 1 to 3 feet tall, branching occasionally. The flowers central brown disk protrudes 1/2 to 2 in. above the drooping petals. Leaves on the lower portion of the stem are feathery and deeply cleft.

Did You Know?

Yellow coneflower is an important part of many prairie ecosystems and is thought to provide an important structural niche for several species of upland birds. The seeds provide a food source for birds and small mammals. If a a mature seedhead is crushed, it gives off the odor of black licorice (anise). 

States
AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WI, WV, WY