A Plant for Two Seasons

Found primarily in coastal prairies of southeast Texas and Louisiana, the Texas coneflower (Rudbeckia texana)  — one of several yellow coneflowers known as ‘Marguerite’ in Acadiana — often forms dense, colorful colonies.

Like many Texans, it seems to dislike our hot, simmering summers. After blooming in late spring, it rests until September, then blooms again through the fall.

This photo from the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge was taken in May. The flowers have begun to appear again along roadsides in east Texas, so a reappearance at the Refuge may be in the offing — just in time to provide a little fall color.

Comments always are welcome.

48 thoughts on “A Plant for Two Seasons

    1. Most of the native coneflowers I find are more scattered. Whether that’s because of my timing or their growth habit I don’t know, but it was a surprise and a delight to find so many of these gathered together.

  1. They sure look like Mexican hats, don’t they? Before reading your text I thought that’s what I was seeing, especially because we still have some Mexican hats flowering here. I checked and found that the Mexican hat, now classified in the genus Ratibida, was once put in Rudbeckia.

    Two other Texas wildflowers with conspicuous second seasons are mealy blue sage and crow poison.

    1. I didn’t know Mexican hats previously had been classified with Rudbeckia, but it makes sense. When I first began paying attention to Texas natives, I had a hard time distinguishing between those plants, and I still have trouble with some of the coneflowers.

      I didn’t realize that crow poison is a known ‘second season’ plant, either. I’ve been seeing it in the past month, and assumed that unusual conditions had coaxed it into bloom again.

      Speaking of being coaxed into bloom, you should have seen the rain lilies at the Brazoria refuge today. Apparently Tropical Storm Beta was just what those flowers needed. I’ve never seen so many. There weren’t any dense patches of flowers,, but there had to be hundreds of them scattered about: maybe even thousands. Most were past their prime, but it was quite a sight.

  2. Given its proclivity to undergo a second inflorescence in the fall, you must long for the coolness of autumn to enjoy the sheer pleasure of the expansive late bloom. I detest any temperature above 30 degrees (C, that is) so a Texas summer would be akin to hell to me!

    1. Here’s a little secret, David: there are Texans for whom the dregs of summer are no more pleasant than they would be for you. We’re about to get our first real ‘cold’ front of the year, and it’s coming none too soon. Relief from the heat will be great, but a little added protection from hurricanes will be nice, too. Of course, we’ll be seeing the reappearance of our winter birds along with flowers like these: what could be better?

    1. Like sunflowers, coneflowers always seem cheerful to me. Between their color and their willingness to grow in less than perfect conditions, they really do brighten up the landscape. They certainly mimic those of us who don’t bloom quite so brightly in high summer!

    1. I’ve never thought of that, but you’re right. I enjoy their spent seed heads; they’re as interesting after they dry as they are pretty when they’re in bloom.

  3. The heads are so knobby — especially when they lose their petals. Do the original heads rebloom or do they put out completely new flowers?

    1. They put out brand new flowers. Once the seed’s begun to form, that’s it for an individual flower. It’s mission accomplished, so to speak. Collecting seed from them is easy and fun; you can run your finger along one of those seed heads and empty it of its seed in a flash, turning it into the Yul Brynner of flowers.

  4. My first thoughts agree with Laurie’s. They do bear an interesting resemblance to the bulrushes we commonly call cattails, but with rich, yellow tutu skirts. An excerpt from Swan Lake might be an appropriate accompaniment for this visual ballet.

    1. Given those long stems and a tendency to dance in the wind, I’d say ballet makes a fine metaphor. Since they’re prairie flowers, I wondered if there would be another composition that would suit them, and of course there is: “Prairie Nights” from Aaron Copland’s Billy the Kid.

      Speaking of music, I think you’ll enjoy this short documentary about music in Kansas’s Flint Hills tallgrass prairie. The Kansas City symphony and open prairie make a wonderful combination. As much as I love roaming solo, this is one event I hope to attend when things settle.

  5. I didn’t realize coneflowers were rudbeckia and how crazy that mexican haats which look just like coneflowers except with a little red on the petals aren’t! I did get some green antelope horn milkweed seeds. there was another plant in my neighbor’s ditch and it did produce seed pods.

    1. I’ve about given up trying to keep up with the taxonomists. Apparently DNA analysis is responsible for a lot of the changes, and while that may be important, it’s not something that concerns me. If I get the genus, I’m happy; getting the species right is a bonus. I try, but I don’t worry unnecessarily if I get it wrong.

      I’m glad you got your seeds. I stopped by my primary source for them yesterday, and nary a plant. The dreaded mowers had showed up, and that was the end of that.

  6. Those are wonderful cones – very impressive! And now I can see where the ‘Mexican Hat’ name comes from. They must be wonderful to see when they’re dancing in the wind.

    1. Both these and the Mexican hats can form large colonies, and they are gorgeous. The Mexican hats can vary a bit; I’ve seen them with all yellow or all red ray flowers. They are perfectly named, given the colors of a nice Mexican serape and shape of a sombrero.

      1. It must be great to see a large colony of them, specially if there’s red mixed in. We rarely see large numbers of flowers growing wild – just poppies sometimes.

  7. I’m making a mental note to get some coneflowers next spring — my neighbor has some beautiful pink ones (which are looking pretty sickly in our recent drought). I wonder if they, too, will have a resurgence as Fall approaches (particularly if we get some promised rain)? Lovely capture, Linda!

    1. I don’t know about the garden varieties of coneflower. I’ve not seen repeated blooms with the native ones I come across, although their season can be a long one. I’ve found natives as early as May, and as late as September. Of course, as the saying goes, your mileage may vary. Rain certainly makes a difference. I noticed this weekend that Beta’s rain has brought a surge of new growth in the area.

  8. Love the Rudbeckia(s) and your photo well captures their grace and beauty. My Coneflowers, the ones in more, rather than less, sun, bloom up again in fall. It’s not the wildly floriferous blooming that the spring crop shows, but still, some nice specimens for the bees and butterflies. And gardener.

    1. I’m happy to read your confirmation of a second bloom, Tina. No matter whether it’s a second or first bloom, fall flowers are delightful. I found both purple asters and a pretty Lobelia this weekend — neither of which I’ve seen before — at least, in the piney woods. I suspect the rain may have helped, as I’ve not seen either of them this summer, but there are fall flowers, and it seems they qualify.

    1. And everyone here is blooming today. Our front has come and gone, and this morning it’s cloudless, windless, and sixty degrees — with almost no humidity. This is the season when even going to work is pure delight. I love autumn for these conditions, but like you I enjoy spring, too. I think it’s all the changes taking place, almost before our eyes.

  9. I’ve been seeing a few black-eyed susans lately and had not considered that they produce a second bloom and just thought they were late bloomers. I’ll have to research that. I really enjoy the shape of these cones…much more elongated than our susans. And I also like your composition with the cloudy soft blue background.

    1. I’ve not seen any mention of other Rudbeckia species with second blooms, so I’d suspect late bloomers. We have a few plants that are considered ‘spring’ bloomers but that appear throughout the year, such as Indian paintbrush and pink evening primrose. When I see them in January, I’m never sure if they’re late or early.

      I feared the sky would be washed out in the photo, but I was happy with this. It was later in the afternoon, but this was taken facing north, which helped.

  10. Encountering an unexpected field of bright yellow coneflowers with their dark brown central cones stretching toward the Lone Star sky is like discovering your very own gold mine!

    1. That’s right — and it doesn’t require nearly so much effort to mine the beauty. I suppose the street value of this gold’s negligible, but Bilbo Baggins got it right:

      ““All that is gold does not glitter,
      Not all those who wander are lost…”

    1. I smiled when I read your post about your coneflowers; I was sure you’d like these, too. This was an almost perfect combination of bloom and seedhead. I’m so glad I noticed them, and got down on the ground to give them a nice background.

    1. I know I replied to this, but I have no idea where the comment went! I remember it because of your microphone imagery; I spent some time trying to figure out which song the flowers might be singing. Now, I can’t remember what I decided then, but this morning I’m thinking “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!” from Oklahoma! might do. Now that it’s in my head, I’ll probably be humming it all day. We’ll see if it survives a trip to the DMV to renew my driver’s license.

    1. Isn’t that pretty? So often, I don’t do well at capturing fields of color. It’s a combination of the camera I have and a lack of skills. But every once in a while I find a group of flowers or a scene that’s ‘capturable,’ and it’s always fun when I do. Roadside flowers like these work well — I’m glad you enjoyed them!

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