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Ratibida columnifera – Prairie Coneflower

A scrappy and scruffy native perennial for the wildflower garden, Ratibida columnifera is reliable, easy to grow, and heat-loving.

Most commonly known as Mexican hat due to the sombrero-like nature of the flowers, Ratibida columnifera is also called prairie coneflower, thimbleflower, and long-headed coneflower.

prairie coneflower - ratibida columnifera
Ratibida columnifera – Mexican hat.

Mexican hat comes into bloom just as the spring-flowering ragwort starts to fade away into summer. Ratibida columnifera is most appealing when grown with other prairie plants – pale coneflower, coreopsis, butterfly weed all come into bloom at around the same time.

Many native plants have been used by native Americans in their daily lives. Like rattlesnake master, Ratibida columnifera has been used to treat snakebite. It has also been used for tea, treatment of migraine headaches, and poison ivy (USDA Plant Guide).

Ratibida columnifera (prairie coneflower, mexican hat) is native across huge swaths of North America and is easy to grow in the garden.

Mexican hat grows 18″-30″ tall and likes sun and heat. You will see flower petal colors ranging from completely yellow to almost red, with many variations in between.

Ratibida columnifera does not need supplemental watering, making it an excellent choice for xeric gardens. It is often found in disturbed areas where toughness is the primary requisite for establishment. Railroad byways, roadsides, and open land with poor soils are all places you might see prairie coneflower in the landscape.

Scientific name: Ratibida columnifera
Common name(s): Mexican hat, prairie coneflower, thimbleflower, long-headed coneflower
Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
Height: Grows 18″ tall, occasionally growing taller.
Native status: native Canada to Mexico. Distribution.
Bloom period: Early June-August/September. Blooms for about a month in June/July. In wet years, the loom may extend into fall.
Winter hardiness:  3-10
Of note: Easy to grow native perennial. Children love the whimsical and somewhat unusual flowers. Drought-tolerant and dependable. Most at home aesthetically in meadows, prairies, and wildflower gardens. Soils should be well-drained.

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