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Black-eyed Susans

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The black-eyed Susans, Rudbeckia hirta, that earlier made brilliant yellow masses on the roadside as I traveled to work, are native biennial or perennial wildflowers with many cultivars grown by gardeners. Their fun name comes from their sterile yellow ray flowers which surround a brown somewhat hairy cone. This cone actually contains several hundred tiny individual flowers, which over a period of time open from the outside inward; if you take time and maybe use a hand lens you can see yellow stamens on some open flowers. As they mature and open, very small native bees, flies and a plethora of other insects come to feed on them and as they move from one tiny flower to the next, pollenate each of them. If you leave the dried cones, birds will enjoy the seeds throughout winter.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.