A Plant Called … Golden Glow

So remember those two substantial-looking plants that were growing in the Driveway Border, except I had absolutely no memory of ever planting them? Well, they’re blooming now, and they turn out to be Rudbeckia laciniata, which also goes by the truly wonderful common name of Wild Golden Glow.

Wild Golden Glow with Mexican Sunflower and Joe Pye Weed. 


Sure, it has other common names, which is not surprising given that it is native to almost every state of the union other than California, Oregon, and Alaska. At first I was using the common name Green-Headed Coneflower. How nerdy-sounding is that? But now it’s Wild Golden Glow all the way.

I mean, “Golden Glow” is such a great name, I’m surprised it hasn’t been applied to all sorts of high-end products: “Introducing the Mercedes-Benz Golden Glow, setting a new standard for performance and luxury.” Though if it were a car, I suppose it could come only in yellow.

The tall yellow guys are Wild Golden Glow, the shorter ones are Yellow Coneflower. There’s also some Anise Hyssop and Joe Pye Weed. 


Anyway, I think Golden Glow is an especially apt name for this plant, as the flowers are a richer, more golden color than most of the yellow blooms of summer.

Also, Wild Golden Glow is beneficial for native bees and honey bees, in addition to providing seeds for finches and other birds.

DSC_0861According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Wild Golden Glow can reach anywhere from 3′ to 12′ tall. In our garden, it’s in the 6-7′ range. Given this fact, as President of APTaPS (American Prodigiously Tall Plant Society), I have directed that a special committee be established for the promotion of Wild Golden Glow.


DSC_0850Though to be honest, it seems to be pretty good at promoting itself. Multiple sources warn that it may not be the best choice for smaller gardens, as its underground stems can rampage through beds and borders.

It doesn’t scare me, though. First off, many of its neighbors in the Driveway Border are not easily pushed around. Plus, it’s hardly the only plant I’ve got that requires a vigilant shovel to keep it in bounds.

DSC_0854The green head of Wild Golden Glow flowers are actually a tightly packed bunch of tiny disc flowers. The yellow “petals” are called ray flowers.

DSC_0855After the ray flowers unfurl, the individual disc flowers bloom. Each one can make its own seed. This is why daisy-type flowers are called composites. The American Midwest is full of many, many species of yellow composite flowers in summer, which has given rise to the expression DYCs (Damn Yellow Composites).


DSC_0846How can I not be glad to have Wild Golden Glow in the garden, even if I have no idea how it got there? It’s worth having for the name alone.

37 Comments on “A Plant Called … Golden Glow”

  1. As the president of the APT aPS I would stand proud … the wild Golden Glow is gorgeous … Like a cross between a sunflower and a daisy.. & It stands out well against your house… Enjoy summer and your flowering garden..

  2. It’a a beauty and I love your photo of the individual disc flowers. There is a disturbing trend in your blog posts, though, of rampaging plants. You will soon have all-out flower wars in your yard. Or very vigilant shovels.

  3. That’s a great plant, and I’d like to grow it (especially since I can’t grow sunflowers). Thank God no one named it “Yellow Checkered Cab Coneflower” or something equally as awful.

  4. Given your penchant for tall flowers, this one seems like a natural for your garden. I grow the related cultivar ‘Autumn Sun’ or (in German) ‘Herbstsonne.’ Re Bittster’s comment about the goldfinches, the goldfinches in my garden like to systematically tear all the ray flowers off these blossoms.

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