Brown Eyed Susan is one of many yellow daisy type flowers blooming in the Ozarks from mid to late summer. Some are so similar, it is difficult to separate one from another or identify them with certainty.
Taking note of several things helps with identification. One is flower size, the number of ray flowers and the under side of the flower for the sepal arrangement. Another is the leaf size and shape plus any basal leaves.
Brown Eyed Susans are fairly easy to identify.
Rudbckia triloba L.
June to November N Family: Asteraceae
Flower: Single flowers tip the branches and numerous stalks from leaf nodes. Each flower is one and a half inches across with six to twelve orange yellow ray flowers and central purplish brown tube flowers. These sit on a disk formed by five green, hairy bracts that arch downward.
Leaf: The alternate leaves are green, thin and rough to the touch, like fine sandpaper. All the leaves may be ovate with a long, tapered point and coarse, irregular teeth. Some, mostly lower, leaves can be deeply lobed into three parts. The leaves are covered with short hairs and have three main veins. The lower leaves have a short, winged petiole while upper leaves are sessile.
Stem: The stiff, green to dark red stems are covered with white hairs. The stems can reach five feet tall and have numerous branches giving the plant a bushy appearance.
Root: There are biennial to short lived perennial fibrous roots and rhizomes.
Habitat: This plant likes sunny areas with moist, well drained soil and are common along roads.
Brown Eyed Susan
Many of the yellow daisy type of flowers have basal leaves and stems topped with flowers. Brown eyed Susan is different.
Brown eyed Susans send up the typical tall stem but it puts out branches and more branches. These put out branches until there is a bush as much as five feet tall standing towering above most of the other plants in the area.
Each branch tip has a flower. These are small, less than two inches across, but their number makes up for this. The bush looks like yellow ornaments studding the spring green of the leaves.
Although Brown eyed Susans bloom for months, most of flowers appear in the first month. This may be different on cultivated plants where the old flowers are removed so the plant never sets seed.
The flowers are busy places. Few large butterflies visit but many small ones, bees, wasps and other insects form a steady stream of traffic. Flower spiders and assassin bugs hide among the ray flowers.
The flowers usually have a single row of ray flowers. I did find one plant with double flowers.