Ratibida columnifera

Ratibida columnifera
2nd year Ratibida bloomed from mid-June to late July. With dead heading a 2nd bloom in August.

Ratibida columnifera – Prairie coneflower (Su,DM,A,N)

12 – 36″ tall x 12 – 18″ spread, fine, lacy leaves.  Yellow to reddish summer blooms from June to September.   Light brown columnar center of the flower with yellow drooped rays form resemble a sombrero.  The R. columnifera forma pulcherrima have brownish purple rays. Another common name for this is the long-headed coneflower or Mexican hat.

This is a good plant for native bees.

  • Blooms:  Summer  (Su)
  • Moisture: Medium to Dry  (M-D)
  • Soil Type: Both clay and sand or laom – All (A)
  • Range: Native (N)
  • Started as: Seed

Family: Asteraceae  / Sunflower family

Propagation via seed

Also known as Rudbeckia columnaris, flowers can range from yellow to a reddish brown.  Those in my garden are yellow.   In my garden I will be testing this as replacement for the non-native cosmos that reliably reseed and put on a beautiful show from late July to October.  The cosmos’ foliage is denser than this rudbeckia so it may need companion grasses.  There was concern of it being unable to thrive in clay and the seed variety I got from Prairie Moon performed well.


Ratibida columnifera

1 – 2.5

Sun, Dry This perennial blooms from June into the fall. It is hardy and easily reseeds itself. Flowers come in both yellowish and reddish morphs.

Gray-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) is another Ratibida that goes well in a prairie.

In the garden

As typical of Colorado natives, this is following the multi-year plan.  Sleep, Creep, Leap

The first year for the Ratibida is not much to write home about.  The leaves of this columnaris is not the fine lacy of some variants, the leaves look more like the species example. A weedy looking specimen, I had to ensure I kept a plant tag nearby to ensure I didn’t pull it mistakenly.   As fall came around and cool air swept in, leaves changed to fuzzy grey with a purplish tinge.  The mild December weather and bright winter sun show off the pretty leaves.

Ratibida columnifera during the holidays of 2020

Animals seen nectaring:

genus geron, Geron calvus or Geron senilis


See Also:

Tips for Growing Natives

USDA link


An amateur gardener who loves to watch the garden grow.