Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mohr's Coneflower - Rudbeckia mohrii

Mohr's coneflower (Rudbeckia mohrii) is a near-endemic, found only in a nine-county area of the Florida Panhandle and in a small portion of Georgia. Throughout this region, it can be locally common, but confined to open wetlands, such as savannas, roadside ditches, and the upper edges of marshes and swamps. It does not persist in areas that are not exceptionally wet to shallowly inundated in the summer rainy season.
Mohr's coneflower is unique among our nine species of black-eyed susans and cannot be mistaken for any of the others.  It is the only yellow-flowered species to have grass-like leaves and a tall leafless (or near-leafless) flower stalk. This is a perennial species that dies back to the ground in winter and emerges in spring from a stout central stem. As stated above, the basal leaves are linear in shape, without teeth, and up to 12 inches long. From this, a slender flower stem emerges and eventually reaches a mature height of 2-4 feet by the summer.
Flowering occurs from mid-summer to early fall. The photos above were taken in Apalachicola National Forest 13-14 August 2015.  The flowers are typical of most black-eyed susans; yellow ray petals surround a chocolate-colored disk.  The ray petals are thin and 1 inch long while the central disk is compact and about 1/2 inch across.  The ends of the flowering stalks often branch near the top and multiple flowers are the norm atop the stems. Like all black-eyed susans, they attract the attention of various pollinating insects.
Mohr's coneflower has not been regularly offered by commerical nurseries associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. Its need for moist to saturated soils limits its use in a typical landscape setting, but its perennial nature and attractive flowers make it a wonderful addition to a wetland planting.  Presently, we are growing this black-eyed susan at Hawthorn Hill and hope to have some extra plants ready for others by spring 2016.  Let us know if you are interested.

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