Prairie Coneflower
Ratibida columnifera (Nutt.) Woot. & Standl.
Family: Asteraceae, Aster
Genus: Ratibida
Synonyms: R. columnaris, Rudbeckia columnaris
Other names: upright prairie coneflower, Mexican hat
Nomenclature: columnifera = column-shaped
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
Description

General: plant 30-120 cm tall. Growth habit: perennial with a taproot and short, persistent stem base. Stems: usually several, branching from the base, with flat, stiff, short hairs.

Leaves: alternate, lance-shaped, deeply pinnately cut into 5-9 segments, the segments linear or lance-shaped, toothless or nearly so, with flat, short, stiff hairs.

Flowerheads: yellow with 3-7 rays, which are 15-45 mm long, relatively very broad, spreading or bent down, around a dark, column-shaped disk, mostly 15-40 mm long and about 1/4-1/2 as wide. Heads several on long stalks. Style appendages short and blunt. June-August.

Fruits: achenes, hairy and usually slightly winged on the inner edge. Pappus an evident awn tooth on the inner angle of the achene, often also with a shorter one on the outer angle.


Distribution

Prairies, plains and disturbed ground, in most parts of MT. Also in MN to MO and from s.e. B.C. to TX and Mexico.
Edible Uses

A pleasant tasting tea is made from the leaves and flower heads.



Medicinal Uses

The plant has medicinal properties that are pain-relieving and fever-reducing. The leaves and stems especially are pain-relieving. A tea has been used to relieve the pain of headaches and to treat stomach aches and fevers. The Cheyenne made a tea from boiling plant parts as a wash to relieve pain and to treat poison ivy rash, and also as a wash to draw the poison out of rattlesnakes bites. The Sicangu people in South Dakota used a tea of plant tops for headaches and stomachaches. The Acoma and Laguna Indians used crushed leaves rubbed on mothers' breast to wean a child.


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