I guess these black orbs are seed pods? What type of grass or wildflower is...

Asked October 5, 2017, 11:01 AM EDT

I guess these black orbs are seed pods? What type of grass or wildflower is this? Seen at a Metropark near Lake Erie Cleveland

Cuyahoga County Ohio

3 Responses

Thanks for sending your very challenging question. Sorry for the slow response, but it has gone through our experts.

It is hard to name a plant for you from only the seed pod that you sent. It would help if there was something of scale to identify the size of the seed head as well as a leaf. The seed head definitely belongs to wildflower and not a grass. If you follow the stem down in the photo you sent, you will see the remnants of dried up leaves.

Do you know if the area is native or has been planted with a wildflower/grass mix?
When you touch the seed heads, do they feel firm and dried up or do they want to fall apart?

My initial response was that it belongs to one of several groups of flowers. I thought of the coneflowers, Echinacea, but they do not have seed pods that look like that. Next is a the Black or Browned eyed Susan, Rudbeckia. This is where knowing the size of the seed pod would help. They do sometimes have a seed pod that looks like the photo once the flower parts have completely dropped. Lastly, there is the prairie coneflower, Ratibida. There are several species of these, each with it's own unique seed pod.

Here are some sites about these plants:
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c580
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b937
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b281
https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/gray-headed-coneflower

If you could respond with more information and answers to the questions along with a picture showing scale, perhaps we could give you a better answer.

Thanks for the question and your patience. Sorry that I cannot be more definitive about the identification.

Thanks for detailed answer.
I attached a photo collage .
In the field the stalks are 4 to 5 feet.
Location is Lakefront Metropark so I guess these are native but the park is "managed".
The seed pods are firm.

Thanks for the great response and photos.

The seed pod definitely looks like a Rudbeckia by size and texture.
The size of 4-5' fits with Rudbeckia subtomentosa, the Sweet Coneflower.
The leaf that you were able to include is one of the forms that this plant has.
Therefore, my guess on ID is the Sweet Coneflower, Rudbeckia subtomentosa.

Here are a couple of sites to help with identification:

http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/savanna/plants/sw_coneflower.htm

http://www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org/pages/plants/sweetblackeyesusan.html

Thanks for allowing us to help.
Dave