Rudbeckia triloba (Brown-eyed Susan)

Plant Info
Also known as: Three-lobed Coneflower
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
  • State Threatened
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil; low woods, thickets, disturbed soil
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:1 to 5 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Flowers are deep golden yellow, daisy-like, 1 to 2 inches across, held in widely branched open clusters. Flowers have 6 to 13 rays (petals) that are oval to round, with several small notches at the tips. The center disk is dark purple brown, round to almost conical.

[photo of bracts] Behind the flower are hairy bracts, typically 8 in number, of unequal size, spreading back away from the flower.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 2 to 4 inches long, ½ to 2 inches wide, dark green, thin and rough on both surfaces, covered in bristly hairs to varying degrees. Lower leaves are largest, stalked and often three-lobed; upper leaves and bracts are smaller, lance elliptic, sharply pointed with fine teeth or smooth edges. Stems are bristly hairy and usually reddish-green. Mature plants take on a bushy appearance from many branching stems.


While a Minnesota species of special concern in the wild from loss of habitat to agriculture and invasive species, Brown-eyed Susan flourishes in gardens across the state. One of the best cut flowers around it can last for weeks in a kitchen vase. While the flowers may be similar to Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), though smaller, the leaves and overall plant structure make them easy to distinguish.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Anoka County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in a private garden in Anoka County..


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Pat - Meeker Co.
on: 2012-04-07 20:14:16

Found a small plant growing near my shoreline on Lake Stella, in not very good soil. I collected seeds and germinated them the next year and planted out in my wildflower garden. Then forgot about them. The following year I had the most spectacular 'black eyed susan' ever. About four feet tall, this plant had hundreds of blooms for about two months. Absolutely Drop Dead Gorgeous.

Posted by: Laurie - minneapolis
on: 2014-07-04 09:02:11

My brown eyed susan plants have no leaves on the flowers just the center part of the flower, same with my coneflowers. What coud be happening and what can I do to fix it? Thanks Laurie

Posted by: Linda - Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Eagan MN
on: 2015-08-29 02:40:17

There are large patches of three-lobed coneflower on many trails in Lebanon Hills Park. Today I was admiring 15' long patches on both sides of the trail just northwest of marker #36 by the little creek. Very pretty in the late afternoon sunshine.

Posted by: Lynn - Rice county
on: 2016-08-01 10:36:05

I planted a few of these from a friend many years ago. They have spread from there to many places on our property. They are beautiful and bloom from late summer into the fall. I let them go to seed and leave them wherever they stand.

Posted by: Shelley - Hayland Twp, Mille Lacs County
on: 2017-04-13 15:03:16

Though not documented in my county, they have been popping up here and there in undeveloped areas at our place throughout the 40 years we have lived here.

Posted by: Sandy A - Rochester
on: 2017-08-29 11:40:41

All of a sudden started growing in my garden. I didn't plant it. I am pretty sure I also have black-eyed Susans in another part of my garden which I didn't plant. Then I have a cluster of Heliopsis that I did plant. I inherited my (huge) flower gardens (three sides of my property) when I bought my house ten years ago. I had never gardened before, so I may not be totally accurate on things. But I Googled these three and also looked in a flower identification book, so I think I am right.

Posted by: Jan - St Paul
on: 2018-06-21 17:40:42

Crosby Farm Regional Park in St Paul has lots of these. They are spectacular. I picked seeds years ago. They didn't take in my too shady garden, but I had given seeds to a friend in Indiana, where they have been very happy. They are now back home in my sunny garden. We still call them Crosby Park Rudbeckia. Love them.

Posted by: Darlene Levenson - St. Paul
on: 2019-08-03 12:04:44

I've had Rudbeckia trilobal coming up every year since I planted the one I bought at a nursery at least a decade ago, and the blooms are gorgeous! Although they don't grow in the same area each year, their seeds have spread, but not enough so they're out of control. They're usually near the ones from the previous season. And they attract both bees & butterflies. The blossoms on mine are just starting to open now (Aug. 2019). Such a joy to see them again!

Posted by: Kenny h - Lake Louise State Park
on: 2020-08-03 07:16:51

found about a dozen on the main road going to the picnic a ways but visible from road ...quite shady...very natural native setting.

Posted by: Elizabeth Kiefer - Rochester
on: 2020-09-27 09:59:58

There is a hillside with approximately 300 plants still in bloom on Fox Valley Drive SW near the intersection with 23 Ave. SW in Rochester, Minnesota. Absolutely beautiful.

Posted by: Susan Bliss - Waterville
on: 2021-05-22 21:48:46

This plant showed up randomly in my perrenial garden about 3 years ago. I'm thinking bird poop. I have been encouraging it to spread and sharing with friends.

Posted by: Kit Eastman - Around Lake Como in St. Paul MN
on: 2021-08-28 13:55:25

These are beautiful plants. They have been flourishing around Como Lake in St. Paul, MN in recent years, along with other native plantings started by the City of St. Paul and Conservation Corps (I think.) Anyway, Just beautiful in August and don't seem to mind the heat, the shade, or the rain.

Posted by: Edith Lueke - Rochester
on: 2023-06-11 01:27:04

I have one plant on the north east side of my house. I hope to eventually get more to grow, but am not sure just how to proceed.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-06-11 07:23:34

Edith, have no fear as this readily reseeds itself and will eventually pop up everywhere.

Posted by: Emily Ryan - North Minneapolis
on: 2023-08-06 00:05:09

We have 70 or full sized plants of these in our backyard, from seeds gleaned from a nearby prairie area. There seem to be representatives of at least 5 subspecies, or it may just be one that is highly variable in stem color, height, and blossom density.

Posted by: N Seresn - Rochester
on: 2023-09-21 19:30:01

Found and identified this today. Very sweet. Loosely scattered near the lake and nature center at Quarry Hill Park.

Posted by: Paige Hulne - Austin
on: 2023-09-24 14:41:25

I saw a patch of these between some trees on the edge of a prairie at a disc golf park around the northern edge of Clear Lake, Iowa.

Posted by: Andy - Minneapolis
on: 2024-05-30 14:03:31

These have volunteered this year in all areas of my yard--from where there's maybe 2 hours/day direct sunlight to full sun. Due to its prevalence and how fast it's growing, I assumed it's a weed. I had trouble IDing it, b/c most of the leaves have 5 lobes each (2 extra smaller lobes on the main lobe) and large teeth--which doesn't really match the photos here. So I sent photos to Master Gardeners, and they said it's Brown-eyed Susan. Wow, I was sure it's a weed--its fast growth, big size, and how it suddenly showed up en masse this year. Normally only weeds do this in my yard. A wonderful surprise. Looking forward to watching them bloom.

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