Grey-headed Coneflower

Other names: drooping coneflower, gray coneflower, prairie coneflower, weary Susan, grayhead coneflower

Blooming time: June to September

Height: 3-5 feet tall

Stems and Leaves: The yellow coneflower has a slender, grooved stem that is sometimes branched, and is covered with fine hairs that point upward. Alternate lower leaves on long petioles are divided into three to seven leafelets. The lower leaves may be as long as 10 inches, the upper ones are smaller. The leaflets are slender and lance-shaped and usually have coarse teeth. The leaves tend to droop slightly.

Flowers and Fruit: One or several flowers may top a single stem. Each flower has its own long stalk. From 5 to 10 light yellow petals droop downward and may be as long as 2 inches and are less than 1/2 inch wide. They are arranged around a cone which is actually a "disk" of flowers. Prior to the opening of the disk florets, the disk is an ashy gray, but after the florets open the disk turns brown. The cone may be 3/4 in. long and is longer than it is wide. When the center cone is crushed, it has a distinct anise scent.

Interesting facts: American Indians made a tea from the flower cones and the leaves of the yellow coneflower. The Meskwaki used the root to cure toothaches. The young plants provide good grazing for livestock. Yellow coneflower grows readily from seed and is a good choice for starting a garden of prairie flowers.

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Page last updated March 24, 2015
Text resources: Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie- The Upper Midwest, Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roosa;
A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Northeastern and North-central North America, Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny
Photos by Barb McGee -