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A columnar epithet for a plant with stinging hairs, or fine prickles or scales that are arranged in groups, or in rings.Ratibida columnifera (Mexican Hat Plant) is an upright, clump-forming perennial boasting profuse, golden yellow or vibrant rust red daisies with 3-7 drooping rays surrounding a long and prominent central disk - resembling a sombrero with a drooping brim. Blooming beautifully from late spring to fall, the blossoms open on slender stems with bright green, feathery and deeply cleft leaves. Attracting butterflies, they often bloom by the thousands and provide weeks of eye-catching color. Their attractive seedheads further extend the season of interest and will be visited in the fall and winter by birds that feed on the seeds.
Long-headed Coneflower has a deep central taproot making it very drought-tolerant, but it is susceptible to common mammal herbivory. The species name columnifera means 'in the shape of a column' which of course describes the most distinguising feature, the tall central cone. Typcially, the 4 to 12 yellow petals that hang downward from the cone are not as long as the cone itself. This part of the flower is sterile. It's the hundreds of disk florets on the cone that will develop into seeds; the plant self-seeds well. Ratibida pinnata, Yellow Coneflower (also commonly called Gray-headed Coneflower), is much taller than the average 2-3 feet of Long-headed Coneflower. Other names in use include Upright Prairie Coneflower and Mexican Hat.Various insects are attracted to the nectar and pollen of the flowerheads. Floral visitors of Mexican Hat are probably similar to those insects that are known to visit the flowerheads of Ratibida pinnata (Yellow Coneflower).
This is a colorful prairie wildflower. Mexican Hat can be distinguished from Ratibida pinnata (Yellow Coneflower) by its long cylindrical heads, which usually exceed the length of the rays at maturity. The ovoid-globoid heads of Yellow Coneflower, in contrast, are much shorter than the length of their rays. Other common names of Ratibida columnifera are Long-Headed Coneflower and Prairie Coneflower. The common name that is used here, 'Mexican Hat,' refers to the fancied resemblance of the flowerhead to a sombrero.Some variants of Ratibida columnifera have been treated as varieties or forms. The most prominent of these is forma pulcherrima (de Candolle) Fernald, which is characterized by its showy, purplish yellow to purple rays; it is more frequent in the southwestern part of the range of the species. In the typical form, rays are yellow (E. L. Richards 1968). (Source: www.efloras.org)