A slender, hairy-stemmed plant bearing flower heads with drooping, yellow rays on long, stiff ridged stalks. Petals surround a grayish central disk (thus the common name) which darkens to brown as ray flowers drop off, and protrudes above the petals, somewhat resembling a sombrero, thus the other common name of Mexican hat plant. When bruised, the central disk exudes an anise scent. Leaves on the lower portion of the stem are large and deeply cleft, while the upper leaves are smaller. Spreads by rhizomes.
Attracts birds and butterflies. Special value to native bees.
Prefers clay loam to loam soils in full sun but is adaptable to dry to moist conditions and various soils. Drought and poor soil tolerant, so don’t overwater or over-fertilize. May need staking or other support as it is rather floppy.
Height: 3-5 ft.
Spread: 1.5-2 ft.
Bloom time: June to August
Sun: full sun
photo credit: Joshua Mayer