As summer flowers begin to bend and fade, Black-Eyed Susans continue to stand proudly radiant.

The origin of their name apparently is the ballad “Sweet William’s Farewell to Black-Eyed Susan.” It was written about 1720 by English poet John Gay. The dramatic farewell occurs when Susan appears by surprise on William’s warship before he sails off to battle.

Of course, neither Susan nor any other human ever had black eyes. But, Susan may have had dark brown ones, as does this misnamed flower.


There are 30 species of Black-Eyed Susans, all native to North America and part of the Rudbeckia genus; the one shown above is R. fulgida var sullivantii. (Brooklin, Maine)