Ratibida columnifera, commonly called long-headed coneflower or prairie coneflower or Mexican HatsThis plant is an erect, hairy, clump-forming plant that grows 1-3’ tall. It ranges from Alberta to Minnesota and south to Arkansas, New Mexico, and Mexico. It is most common in the Great Plains. An aster family member is perhaps most noted for each flower's extended, cylindrical center disk and its deeply cut leaves.
Flowers bloom in summer. Each flower features an extended narrow center disk with 3-7 drooping yellow rays at the base. Leaves are pinnately lobed. Ray flowers of R. columnifera forma columnifera are yellow, but the rays of the less common R. columnifera forma pulcherrima are brownish-purple. Cylindrical center disks are dark brown and somewhat resemble the crown of a slender sombrero, hence the additional common name of a Mexican hat.
It is quickly grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. It will tolerate drought, light shade, and somewhat poor soils. Intolerant of moist, heavy clays. It may be grown from seed but will not flower until the second year.
Light: Full Sun, Part Shade
Water: Low to Medium
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Origin: North America