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. In my neck of the woods, we call cut-leaf sunflower So-Chan, the Cherokee name for what’s a fabulous plant. I didn’t know that it was so widespread- thanks for a great post.

  2. Of all the things to pop up in your garden, I think you’ve done very well. That’s a stunner of a plant. I wish I had more space to try it. Lovely to see all the detail with your great photos!

  3. I love it! Just what I need in my driveway border behind the blue Agapanthus, I’ll have to see if I can find something similar over here.

  4. 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..

  5. And I thought I was the only one who ever had plants popping up seemingly out of nowhere! Quite an impressive plant!

  6. 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.

  7. It’s a beauty! I love surprises like this. There are so many tall yellow natives blooming this time of year that I can never tell them apart. Thanks for the term DYC; it will make my life easier:)

  8. 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.

  9. What a lovely surprise! I love the first shot of the trio wild Golden Glow with Mexican Sunflower and Joe Pye Weed especially and will be nicking that idea.

  10. Wish everything that popped up without me knowing how or why turned out so good.

  11. It’s a lovely flower and makes a real statement. I suspect it crept in unseen in a pot of something else you planted! 😉 Or the birds did a good job of dispersing seed!

  12. Gorgeous…..trust a tall flower to self seed in your garden, must have known it would get a royal welcome.xxx

  13. Hello Jason, that’s a really lovely sunny yellow, I actually prefer the opening stage when the petals aren’t overlapping and haven’t drooped down. They lok more like single dahlias or Osteospermum then.

  14. 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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