Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Medicinal Herbs: Black-Eyed Susan

I am very glad to be taking an Herbal Apprenticeship with The Boston School of Herbal Studies this year.

Each month, we study an herb, and for May I studied the Black-eyed Susan. While Black-eyed Susans are typically used for landscape beautification, this flower has numerous medicinal applications as well! Although there is limited information on Black-eyed Susan's medicinal properties, here are some interesting facts that I found:

Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta L.

Photo source

Parts used:

  • Root (1-5)
  • Root tea for worms, colds (1-4)
  • External wash for sores, snakebites, swelling (1-4)
  • Root juice for earaches (1-4)
  • Antimicrobial
  • Diuretic (4-6)
  • In the coneflower family (Rudbeckia)
  • Like Echinacea, has been found to have immuno-stimulant activity (1)
  • Recent studies report that coneflower (Rudbeckia) root extracts can be more effective at stimulating the immune system than extracts of Echinacea (which is not in the coneflower family, although it is also known as purple coneflower) (4)
  • The seeds of most Black-Eyed Susans are poisonous, so avoid using the seed for any herbal uses (3)
  • The roots but not the seedheads can be used much like Echinacea (5)
  • Black-eyed Susan tea should be strained to remove the irritating hairs (4)
  • Caution: contact sensitivity to the plant has been reported (1)
  1. Foster, S. and Duke, J. The Peterson Field Guide Series – A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000, p. 142.
  2. Nuffer, B. Black-eyed Susan – Rudbeckia hirta. NY: New York Conservationist, 2007.
  3. Black-Eyed Susan – Rudbeckia. Gardens Ablaze, 7 May 2010.
  4. Q&A - Toxic Perennial Plants. Richters. 8 May 2010.
  5. Black Eyed Susan. Outdoor Edibles. 8 May 2010.
  6. Herbs. Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. 8 May 2010.