Rudbeckia hirta, commonly called black-eyed Susans, are a native wildflower here in the US.

Typically, when it comes to naming animals and plants, their common names stem from either the name of the person who discovered it, where it was found, or by their attributes. For example, pitcher plants hold water in them, much like a pitcher.

How did the name "black-eyed susan" come about? Was it discovered by a blonde lady named Susan who had a black eye at the time, and thought the flower resembled her appearance? Or maybe that it would resemble her if she had a black eye?


It's said to derive from a British poem (which has also been described as a song) by John Gay, titled 'Black Eyed Susan'. The poem also refers to 'sweet william', which is possibly also the origin of the common name for Dianthus barbatus. Sounds like folklore to me - black eyed susan refers to the almost black eye in the centre of the flower. Why susan, who knows - there's a plant in Britain called Tumbling Ted in the North and Bouncing Bet by those of us living in the south - both refer to Saponaria ocymoides. Which is why I loathe common names, you never know what anyone's talking about...

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