Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed-Susan)

I’ve always planned to cover this plant although it’s not tropical. It’s hardy to USDA zones 3-9,  although in P.R. it can only grow as an anual in high elevations (in highest peaks where coffee is grown). I took these images in the Fort Pierce botanical garden in Florida called “Heathcote Botanical Gardens”, a very pleasant garden with one of the largest bonsai collections in the country.Rudbeckia hirtaRudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed-Susan) Aka brown-eyed Susan, Brown betty, Gloriosa daisy, Golden Jerusalem, English bull’s eye, Poor-land daisy, Yellow daisy, Yellow ox-eye daisy, Suzanne aux yeux noirs, or Black-eyed Susan vine,  is a North American species of flowering plants in the sunflower family Asteraceae, native to the Eastern and Central North America and naturalized in the Western part of the continent as well as in China. “It has now been found in all 10 Canadian Provinces and all 48 of the states in the contiguous United States.” -(

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed-Susan)‘Rudbeckia’ is named for Olof Rudbeck and his son (also Olof), 17th century Swedish botanists. ‘Hirta’ is latin for hairy. 

Why is this flower’s popular name “Black-eyed Susan? Who was she? There is a legend that says it all comes from an Old English poem of the post-Elizabethan era entitled simply, “Black-Eyed Susan,” written by a very famous poet of the day named John Gay, 1685-1732.

“All in the downs, the fleet was moored,
Banners waving in the wind.
When Black-Eyed Susan came aboard,
and eyed the burly men.
“Tell me ye sailors, tell me true
Does my Sweet William sail with you?”

“Though battle call me from thy arms
Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms
William shall to his Dear return.
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly
Lest precious tears should drop from Susan’s eye.”

It is thought that this charming poem tells one of the great “Legends of Love” in wildflowers, and every summer even today, it plays out just as the poem describes. Here’s how it works:

“Even though it’s not a native, if you seed wild Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) with common Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), they’ll bloom beautifully for you at exactly the same time. Because both are basically biennials, and her gold plus his bright reds and purples blooming together is a sight to gladden any gardener’s heart.”-read more here:

Rudbeckia hirtaRudbeckia hirta L. The garden. An illustrated weekly journal of horticulture in all its branches [ed. William Robinson], vol. 49: (1896)



24 thoughts on “Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed-Susan)

  1. Beautiful flowers.. I had some in my back garden for the first time this year, I bought them as a plant.. They flowered for ever throughout Summer and Autumn and the frost has only just now blackened them.. I had never heard that poem or connection before Maria.. IT was a delight to read.. Thank you for sharing..
    Wishing you well dear friend.. and if you celebrate Thanksgiving I wish you a beautiful day.. ( here it is just another normal day filled with love )
    Hugs your way
    Sue xx


  2. I’ve always loved the Black-eyed-Susan! I’ve always adored Sweet William. I didn’t know about the poem or about planting them together. I’d love to see them in unison bloom!


  3. Now, this is a flower I can recognize! I didn’t know about the poem, though, or the Sweet William. There is so much lore and legend connected with flowers. It’s just delightful. On my recent trip, there still were black-eyed Susans blooming on a prairie in Missouri. That’s the farthest north I found them. The autumn decline had started, although there were various stragglers left. The botanical print is lovely, too.


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