(Red Spike Mexican Hat)
Ratibida columnifera - Nuttall) Woot. & Standl.
Asteraceae (Composite Sunflower) Family
Plant is an upright, sparsely branched perennial. Height is eight inches to four feet given good soil and moisture. Preferred habitat is dry woods and prairies, occasionally at the margin of lakes and ponds. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
Leaves are opposite; elongated slender compound segments divided into linear leaflets; coarsely toothed; sometimes hairy and rough; emits an odor of anise when crushed.
Flowers are at the end of long stems; the disk forming a cylindrical cone that may reach 2-3 inches in length; ray flowers are yellow, often tinged with red or purple; drooping; and appears to be pinched. Cone is grayish but darkens to brown as ray flowers fall away. Flower season is June-September. Flowers occur in the spring and summer.
Fruit is achene.
The coned sunflowers are palatable to livestock so they tend to diminish with overgrazing of range land and prairies. For all practical purposes the Mexican Sunflower is rarely seen in a native habitat and those that are seen have most likely escaped from cultivation.