South Dakota Native Plant Research
Asteraceae : Ratibida columnifera

Asteraceae : Ratibida columnifera


Download Seed: The achenes of prairie coneflower are 1.5-3 mm long. (60 KB)

Download Seedling: One month old prairie coneflower growing in research greenhouse at SDSU. (62 KB)

Download Vegetative: Shortened hairs make the leaves feel rough (104 KB)

Download Flowering: The flower rays are 1-2.5 cm long. (91 KB)

Download Fruiting: Prairie coneflower in fruit in early September near Brookings, S.D. (42 KB)

Download Various stages of flowering (1.1 MB)

Family Name


Common Name

Prairie coneflower, Mexican hat, Columnar prairie coneflower

Native American Name

Lakota: Napostan


Ratibida columnifera is a perennial herb with green stems arising singly or in clusters from a taproot, growing from 30 to 100 cm in height. The stems are hairy and often branched. The simple, alternate leaves are hairy and have many small glands, growing up to 15 cm long and 6 cm wide, deeply pinnately to bipinnately lobed (5-11 lobes), the ultimate segments being linear to oblong and often very unequal. One to a few heads sit atop a long peduncle, with 2 series of reflexed involucral bracts. Each head consists of 4 to 12 drooping, yellow, purplish-red, or purplish-red with yellow bordered ray florets that surround a columnar receptacle that is up to 5 cm long. The column is covered with numerous purplish disk florets, which open starting at the base of the column and moving upward. the achenes are 1.5-3 mm long with short hairs on the inner edge. Prairie coneflower blooms from June to September along roadsides in open prairies and disturbed fields throughout all of South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Prairie coneflower is a colorful addition to any native plant garden. In cultivation the plants can produce striking displays of 100’s of flowers. They attract many different native bees and butterflies, and their seeds are eaten by several species of songbirds. The Lakota name means Burr root.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seed in mid to late summer Germination: Seeds are somewhat dormant. Treatment with a 1 mM Ethephon solution for 2 weeks or 30-day cold treatment will allow spring sowing. Fall sowing is also an easy option.

Soils: Tolerates most soil types, but prefers well-drained, usually calcareous soils.

Light: Full sun

Water: Prefers moist conditions but can withstand dryer conditions.

Asteraceae : Ratibida columnifera