Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Ratibida columnifera

Mexican hat, Red-spike Mexican hat, Upright prairie coneflower, Prairie coneflower, Long-headed coneflower, Thimbleflower

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Ratibida columnifera (Mexican hat)
Marcus, Joseph A.
A plant branched and leafy in lower part with long leafless stalks bearing flower heads of 3-7 yellow or yellow and red-brown, drooping rays surrounding a long, red-brown central disk. Its sombrero-shaped flower heads, is usually 1 1/2 ft. tall but can reach 3 ft. Flower petals range from dark red and yellow, to all red or all yellow. The flowers central brown disk protrudes 1/2 to 2 in. above the drooping petals. Leaves on the lower portion of the stem are feathery and deeply cleft.

The colorful flower heads, resembling the traditional broad-brimmed, high-centered hat worn during Mexican fiestas, often bloom by the thousands. Green Prairie Coneflower (R. tagetes) has a spherical or oblong central disk and leaves closer to the flower head.

Image Gallery:

135 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf: Green
Flower: Flowers 2 inches
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Orange , Yellow , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Late spring through July; often into August and September if moisture is available.


USA: AL , AZ , AR , CO , CT , FL , GA , ID , IL , IN , IA , KS , LA , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , MT , NE , NJ , NM , NY , NC , ND , OH , OK , PA , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , WV , WI , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , SK
Native Distribution: S.e. B.C. to AZ, e. to WI, IL, MO, AR, OK & TX, south to central Mexico; naturalized eastward
Native Habitat: Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannahs, Roadsides

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Various well-drained, usually calcareous soils. Also Limestone-based, Caliche type, Clay, Clay Loam, Medium Loam, Sandy Loam, Sandy.
Conditions Comments: This is a drought tolerant plant that withstands competition. Plants with rich, brown-purple ray flowers are form pulcherima. Mexican Hat is a fast growing wildflower that is not fussy about soils and is easy to grow from seed. Showy flowers bloom over a long season. Foliage has a strong odor that repels deer. CAUTION: it grows aggressively and may push out other weaker species.


Use Ornamental: Color, Attractive, Blooms ornamental, Wildflower meadow, Perennial garden, Rocky hillside, Patio pot plant
Use Wildlife: Nectar-Bees, Nectar-Butterflies, Nectar-insects, Seeds-Granivorous birds, Deer will eat this flower
Use Food: Beverage tea from leaves. (Kindscher)
Use Medicinal: Tea from leaves and stalks used for stomach ache and pain in side. Tea from flower used for headache. Boiled leaves and stems used as wash for snakebite and poison ivy. (Kindscher)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: High

Last Update: 2015-11-16