black-eyed susan medicinal uses

Surprising Black-eyed Susan Medicinal Uses: More than Just a Pretty Flower

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In this exploration of Black-eyed Susan medicinal uses, we will delve into the historical significance, medicinal uses, and preparation methods associated with this remarkable native wildflower.

As a bioregional herbalist and the caretaker of a certified native medicinal plant sanctuary on my homestead, I am constantly fascinated by the wealth of natural remedies that surround me. It’s a belief I hold dear that the medicine we need to keep ourselves healthy often lies right where we live, possibly just outside our very doorsteps. 

One native plant, Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), has captured our attention as an ornamental beauty, but did you know that it also possesses medicinal benefits? It does! In fact, it shares a close botanical kinship with echinacea, a well-known herbal remedy, and boasts similar medicinal properties.

Come along as we embark on a journey into the world of Black-eyed Susan medicinal uses, where we’ll unravel the traditional importance and the healing possibilities of this extraordinary plant.

Table of Contents

Black-eyed Susan medicinal uses

What is Black-eyed Susan?

Black-eyed Susan, a perennial wildflower native to North America, graces gardens and open spaces with its resilient and long-lasting daisy-like blooms. These vibrant yellow flowers, with their distinct dark brown to black centers, are beloved by gardeners and nature enthusiasts. They are often associated with the warmth of summer and thrive effortlessly around our homestead without requiring much care or intervention.

Where do they grow?

Recognizable by its daisy-like appearance, Black-eyed Susan typically reaches a height of 2-3 feet. Its adaptability allows it to flourish in various soil conditions, making it a hardy and versatile plant. You can find Black-eyed Susan in a wide range of habitats, including meadows, prairies, roadsides, and open woodlands. As a native North American species, it can be spotted from Canada to Mexico, further highlighting its value to herbalists and foragers due to its adaptability and widespread presence.

Black-eyed Susan is also commonly referred to by several other names, including:

  1. Yellow Ox-eye Daisy: This name emphasizes its yellow petals and daisy-like appearance.
  2. Golden Jerusalem: A reference to its bright yellow color.
  3. Brown Betty: Referring to the dark brown to black center of the flower.
  4. English Bull’s Eye: This name likely reflects its resemblance to the bull’s-eye target.
  5. Yellow Daisy: A simple and descriptive name based on its appearance.
  6. Gloriosa Daisy: This name is often used for some cultivars of Black-eyed Susan with larger and more showy flowers.
  7. Orange Coneflower: While it may not be orange, this name highlights its coneflower-like appearance.

These alternative names are often used regionally or colloquially, but the most common name for this plant is Black-eyed Susan.

Black-eyed Susan

Historical Significance

Native American communities have long recognized the medicinal properties of Black-eyed Susan. They used various parts of the plant, including the roots and leaves, to treat a range of ailments such as colds, fevers, and snakebites. It was considered a valuable addition to their herbal pharmacopeia. 

Upon arriving in North America, early European settlers quickly adopted the knowledge of Native Americans regarding Black-eyed Susan’s medicinal uses. They incorporated it into their own herbal traditions, further solidifying its role in early American herbalism.

Black-eyed Susan’s vibrant appearance and resilience have made it a symbol of cheerfulness and encouragement. It has also found its place in folklore and cultural traditions, often representing qualities like faithfulness and loyalty.

black-eyed susan medicinal uses
Black-eyed Susan Medicinal Uses

Black-eyed Susan Medicinal Uses

There are a range of black-eyed Susan medicinal uses, including its potential as an immune booster, antimicrobial agent, and anti-inflammatory remedy. Its roots and leaves contain bioactive compounds that have been used for generations to alleviate various health issues.

Traditionally, Black-eyed Susan has been employed to address conditions such as colds, flu, sore throats, and fevers. Its anti-inflammatory properties may also provide relief for conditions like arthritis and skin irritations.

However, it’s important to note that while the flowers, leaves, and roots of Black-eyed Susan hold medicinal promise, the seeds are considered toxic and should not be consumed. 

Preparation Methods

Various methods can be used to harness the medicinal benefits of Black-eyed Susan, including teas, tinctures, and poultices. The specific preparation and administration depend on the ailment being treated and the part of the plant being used.

Let’s take a close look at which parts of the plant have been traditionally used for healing and how they were used.

How to Prepare the Roots: 

People usually collect the roots of Black Eyed Susan in the fall because that’s when they have the most medicine in them. After picking them, they wash the roots, let them dry, and keep them for later.

Ways to Use Them:

  • Tea: They take the dried roots and boil them in water to make a special tea. This tea can help with things like colds or tummy problems.
  • Poultice: If you have a cut, a big pimple, or a bug bite on your skin, you can turn the roots into a mushy paste and put it on your skin. It might help because the plant can fight germs and reduce swelling.
  • Tinctures: Some folks soak the roots in alcohol to make tinctures. These can be taken by the dropperful to help with different health issues.

How to Use the Leaves

You can pick the leaves when the plant has flowers. After collecting them, let them dry in a shady place, not in the sun, and keep them in a jar for later use.

Ways to Use:

  • Tea: Just like the roots, you can put the dried leaves in hot water to make tea. People sometimes drink this tea when they have a sore throat or feel unwell.
  • Salves: Sometimes, the leaves are infused in oil and then added to salves or ointments that you can put on your skin. These might help if your skin is inflamed, red or swollen.

Using the Flowers

Usually, you pick these flowers when they are fully open. After picking, you can dry them and keep them for later.

How to Use Them:

  • Making Tea: You can put these flowers in hot water to make tea. People don’t use them for tea as often as the roots or leaves, but some think it might help you relax and boost your immune system.
  • Making Things Look Nice: Sometimes, we add dried black-eyed Susan flowers to herbal mixes just because they look pretty. Even though they’re mostly there for decoration, they can still have some of the plant’s healing stuff in them.
black-eyed susan medicinal uses
black-eyed susan medicinal uses - safety and precautions

Safety and Precautions

While Black-eyed Susan offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to exercise caution and be informed. Some individuals may experience side effects or interactions with medications. Always consult with your doctor or clinical herbalist before incorporating herbal remedies into your healthcare routine.


While many folks simply admire black-eyed Susan for their beauty, I hope this article has shed light on their hidden world of healing and history. Black-eyed Susan’s common appearance belies their remarkable potential as medicinal plants. So, the next time you spot one of these flowers, remember the valuable black-eyed Susan medicinal uses they carry with them.

Disclaimer (I am not a doctor or clinical herbalist, nor do I play one on the internet.  Please consult your doctor or a qualified herbalist before trying any herbal remedy, and be sure to do your own research, consulting more than one source to verify information.)

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