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Ratibida pinnata (Pinnate prairie coneflower)
Cressler, Alan

Ratibida pinnata

Ratibida pinnata (Vent.) Barnhart

Pinnate prairie coneflower, Grayhead Mexican hat, Yellow coneflower, Grayhead coneflower

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Synonym(s): Lepachys pinnata, Rudbeckia pinnata


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A slender, hairy-stemmed plant bearing flower heads with drooping, yellow rays surrounding a roundish to ellipsoid, grayish central disk darkening to brown as rays drop off. Gray-head mexican-hat is a 3-5 ft. tall, summer perennial with a somewhat branched stem. One or several flowers, each on its own long stalk, may top a single stem. The yellow rays (petals) droop downward and are arranged around a grayish-brown cone. Lower leaves are long and divided into leaflets, while the upper leaves are smaller.

A similar species, Upright Prairie Coneflower (R. columnifera), is a shorter plant; its central disk is columnar, 2-4 1/2 times as long as thick. Because these species are palatable to livestock, the plants tend to diminish with heavy grazing of rangeland. When bruised, the central disk exudes an anise scent.


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf: Green
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AL , AR , CT , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MI , MN , MO , MS , NE , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: W. PA & s. Ont. to MN, SD & NE, s. to GA, LA & OK
Native Habitat: Prairies; thickets; woodland edges

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Tolerant of a wide range of soils: sandy to clay and calcareous soils.
Conditions Comments: This tall, showy plant needs competition in small areas. tall stems may require support.


Use Wildlife: Birds, Butterflies
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Dependably propagated from seed, which is produced abundantly. Sow unstratified seed in fall; stratified seed in spring. Clumps can also be divided.
Seed Collection: Seeds mature in autumn.
Seed Treatment: Moist stratification improves germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
Enchanter's Garden - Hinton, WV
Ohio Prairie Nursery - Hiram, OH
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store


Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Ratibida pinnata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Ratibida pinnata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Ratibida pinnata


Record Modified: 2014-07-18
Research By: TWC Staff

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