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Rudbeckia laciniata variety ampla
Rudbeckia laciniata variety ampla. Synonym: Rudbeckia ampla.   (Golden Glow)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane, subalpine. Streamsides. Summer, fall.
Roaring Fork Road, August 7, 2004.

Rudbeckia laciniata is an eye-catching, plant growing to seven feet tall, often in extensive patches in moist meadows and along streams.  Its flowers are large and showy, having upward swelling disk and widely spaced, drooping ray flowers.  Leaves are large, commonly 4-7 inches, and of several shapes, ranging from simple to compound with margins entire to serrate.

Rudbeckia laciniata is one of several Sunflower species sometimes called "Black Eyed Susan" or "Coneflower".

Rudbeckia was named by Linnaeus in 1731 to honor Olof Rudbeck the Younger who, in the spring of 1730, had appointed Linnaeus, even though he was just a second year Uppsala University medical student, to replace himself as lecturer in botany and to lead the prestigious spring Botanic Garden demonstrations. After the course was over, Rudbeck hired Linnaeus to tutor his three youngest sons and in June of 1730, Rudbeck invited Linnaeus to live in his house and eat at his table. Rudbeck went even further in the interest of this young man he considered so brilliant by obtaining a "special grant from the Senate" for Linnaeus.

Rudbeck had thus rescued Linnaeus from a student life of utter poverty, for until Linnaeus received Rudbeck's largess, he had been walking in shoes patched with paper in their soles and barely finding enough food to fuel his brain and its quest for understanding nature.

Linnaeus was deeply and openly more than grateful for Rudbeck's recognition and assistance. On July 29, 1731, Linnaeus wrote Rudbeck about a new plant that Linnaeus had just named for Rudbeck:

So long as the earth shall survive and as each spring shall see it covered with flowers, the Rudbeckia will preserve your glorious name.

I have chosen a noble plant in order to recall your merits and the services you have rendered, a tall one to give an idea of your stature, and I wanted it to be one which branched and which flowered and fruited freely, to show that you cultivated not only the sciences but also the humanities. Its rayed flowers will bear witness that you shone among savants like the sun among the stars; its perennial roots will remind us that each year sees you live again through new works. Pride of our gardens, the Rudbeckia will be cultivated throughout Europe and in distant lands where your revered name must long have been known. Accept this plant, not for what it is but for what it will become when it bears your name. (Quotation from Blunt's Linnaeus, The Compleat Naturalist.)

It is not known how the 24 year old Linnaeus acquired the specimen of this North American species, but it is a good possibility that it came from the eminent John Bartram (1699-1777), often called the Father of American Botany, and known to Linnaeus through the British botanist Peter Collinson who received and distributed many North American plants from Bartram. Linnaeus later said of Bartram, he is the "greatest natural botanist in the world".

I should also note that most floras and botanical authorities indicate that in the genus name Rudbeckia Linnaeus was honoring both the father and son Rudbecks, but I believe that the the above quotation makes it very clear that it was Olof Rudbeck the Younger who Linnaeus was honoring. More than likely decades or centuries ago the above quotation was not known to whomever wrote about the naming of Rudbeckia and they assumed that since both father and son Rudbeck were eminent Uppsala professors, Linnaeus was honoring the family. That first biographical mistake was perpetuated by future biographers.

(More biographical information about Olof Rudbeck the Younger and his father.) 

"Laciniata" is Latin for "torn or rent", perhaps referring to the deeply cut leaves.

In 1901 Aven Nelson renamed this species Rudbeckia ampla, and in 1955 the species was renamed Rudbeckia laciniata variety ampla by Cronquist (of Intermountain Flora).

"Ampla", Latin for "spacious", refers to the large flower.

Rudbeckia laciniata variety ampla
Rudbeckia laciniata variety ampla. Synonym: Rudbeckia ampla.   (Golden Glow)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane, subalpine. Streamsides. Summer, fall.
Roaring Fork Road, August 7, 2004.

The central disk flowers are unopened, green, and packed tightly in the youngest buds at left and you can also see some disk flowers fully opened (yellow with brown pollen tips) emerging from the bottom of the cone at the base of the long ray flowers.  At the two o'clock position from the center of the photograph, you can see one flower with all of its disk flowers fully opened.  See below for another flower with almost all of its disk flowers open.

Rudbeckia laciniata variety ampla
Rudbeckia laciniata variety ampla. Synonym: Rudbeckia ampla.   (Golden Glow)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane, subalpine. Streamsides. Summer, fall.
Little Taylor Creek Trail, July 28, 2005.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

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Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

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Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
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Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Rudbeckia laciniata

Rudbeckia laciniata variety ampla

Range map for Rudbeckia laciniata variety ampla