Black Eyed Susan by Jason HollingerPhoto by Jason Hollinger

Fast Facts

  • Proclaimed Maryland’s state flower in 1918
  • Botanical name: Rudbeckia hirta
  • Common names: Brown Betty, Brown Daisy, Brown-eyed Susan, Yellow Daisy, Yellow Ox-eye Daisy
  • Black-Eyed Susan trivia: A wash made from the root of the Susan is sometimes used as a natural pain reliever for snakebites, swelling and sores.
  • Maryland Flower Delivery

From its limelight appearance in the Preakness Stakes to its roadside role in welcoming visitors to the state, the Black-Eyed Susan is as a ubiquitous – and delightful – ambassador for the state of Maryland.

Named the Maryland state flower in 1918, the sunny, open-faced flower is characterized by its simple charm and symbolism. It shares the same colors; black and gold, as the state flag of Maryland. It also has 13 petals – the same number of original American colonies, of which Maryland was a part of.

Rudbeckia hirta by Matt LavinPhoto by Matt Lavin

In a state known more for its love of horse racing than flowers (Baltimore holds the Preakness Stakes here each May), the Maryland state flower earns a surprising amount of respect. The Black-Eyed Susan is the name of a filly race that directly precedes the Preakness. The Black-Eyed Susan is also the name of the official Preakness cocktail (though the drink contains no actual flower parts). And each year, the winner of the Preakness is festooned with a blanket made out of Black-Eyed Susan flowers (though organizers have confessed to subbing pompom chrysanthemums in the past).

The tributes are not bad for a pretty wildflower. Indeed, Maryland’s state flower grows easily with little attention. It thrives along roadsides, in fields and in hillsides across the state from Cumberland in the west, Frederick in the middle, to St. Mary’s City in the east.

Its sunny, daisy-like appearance centers on a raised, dark sphere that is surrounded by yellow and gold ray-shaped petals. Susans can reach heights between 3 to 6 feet and often grow in abundance in the wild, making it a favorite of wildflower photographers.

Maryland’s state flower is also popular with gardeners. Gardeners may either grow annual or perennial varieties of the plant. Both varieties thrive in full sun.

Sources:

The Preakness

http://www.preakness.com/Official+Black-Eyed+Susan+Recipe

The Human Flower Project

http://www.humanflowerproject.com/index.php/weblog/comments/1155