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.
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).