Black Eyed Susan – Rudbeckia hirta

Botanical: Rudbeckia hirta, R. laciniata

Family: Asteraceae

Common Names: Coneflower, brown-eyed Susan, blackiehead, yellow daisy, golden Jerusalem, brown Betty, gloriosa daisy, poorland daisy, yellow ox-eye daisy, blackeyed Susan, gloriosa daisy, hairy coneflower

Parts Used: Root and sometimes the leaves

This plant grows to heights of 2 to 3 feet in height and enjoys full sun. The black-eyed Susan starts its blooming cycle in June and lasts all summer long until September. This North American native brings bright spots of color to the garden. The Black-eyed Susan has inflorescences, which are bright yellow ray florets with brown circular domed centers. Black Eyed Susan is the state flower of Maryland.

R. lacinata is tall, 2 – 4 foot perennial that grows in rich soils in the mountains of Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado and grows north into Canada.In the west it grows from 5,000 to 8,500 feet along streams and in wet places. he leaves are cutleaf and palmate when basal, gradually becoming simpler towards the large yellow flowers.

In some areas the flowers are flecked with brown. R. hirta is found in California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas and in other areas where it has gone wild. R. hirta is 1- 3 feet tall and is densely hairy.

The leaves sometimes are freckled with purple spots. The lower leaves are 2 to 4 inches long, oblong, becoming smaller and lanceolate towards the flowers. The flowers are yellow with a dark brown cone. [1]

Recent studies indicate that extracts made from the black-eyed Susan root can be beneficial in stimulating the immune system and in that regard being even more effective than the better known medicinal plant Echinacea. [2] Echinacea is also known as purple coneflower.

How to Use Black Eyed Susan


The seeds are considered poisonous. Do not use them medicinally or otherwise.


A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers of Black Eyed Susan.

Using Black Eyed Susan for Wellness

The plant and root have both been used by North American native tribes to treat a wide range of ailments –
from worms in children to snakebites and earaches.

  • The root has been used traditionally as an herbal remedy to rid the body of parasitic worms. The Ojibwa,
    a Native American tribe also known as the Chippewa, used infusions of the roots to treat worms in children.
    The Ojibwa also made a poultice or external wash made from this herb as a treatment for snake bites.
  • Black Eyed Susan has diuretic properties and was used by the Native American tribes Menominee and Potawatomi to increase the flow of urine.
  • A juice extracted from the roots has been used to treat earache.
  • An infusion or tea made from the roots was applied topically as an herbal remedy for minor cuts, sores, scrapes and swellings and as a poultice for snake bites. [3]
  • An herbal remedy in the form of an infusion from the roots is used traditionally to treat dropsy.

Properties of Black Eyed Susan

In a study on Immunomodulating activity of Echinacea gloriosa L., Echinacea angustifolia DC. and Rudbeckia speciosa Wenderoth ethanol-water extracts. National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded…

The effect of the ethanol-water extracts of Echinacea gloriosa L., Echinacea angustifolia DC. and Rudbeckia speciosa Wenderoth on immunological system of inbred mice was investigated. The extract of the root of Rudbeckia speciosa had the highest immunostimulatory activity.[4]

Also praised for its ability to support wellness, this Rudbeckia’s roots are astringent and its abilities are very similar to that of its cousin, Echinacea….

  • Pediatric aid
  • Increase the flow of urine
  • Colds

“Red Will” Danaher: Mind you, I’m fresh as a daisy!
Thornton: You look more like a black-eyed Susan to me.
~ From “The Quiet Man” Movie 1952


  • The seeds are considered poisonous. Do not use them medicinally or otherwise.

black eyed susan - rudbeckia blooming


Recent research on the Black-eyed Susan has been primarily concerned with the polysaccharides and aqueous ethanol extracts of the root of the plant.

Experimentation determining the value of the antioxidant properties of the polysaccharides in the root has examined the their ability to inhibit peroxidation of soyabean lecithin liposomes by OH radicals (Kardosova and Machova, 2006).

Studies focused on the ethanol extracts of the root have indicated immune-stimulating properties of through the observation of increased activity of phagocytes and the metabolic activity of macrophages, as well as through the increased bacterial activity of microphages on E. Coli cells (Kardosova et al., 1997).

Experimentation continues to examine the structural characterization of the active ingredients of the root said to offer antitussive and anti-inflammatory abilities. [4]


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