AZ Arboretums

Ratibida columnaris

Mexican hat

Common:  Mexican hat, Red Prairie Coneflower, yellow Mexican hat, upright prairie coneflower, long-head coneflower, columnar prairie coneflower
Family:   Asteraceae
Origin/Range: North American plains from Canada to Mexico
Light:  Full sun
  Natural range is dry open ground, and disturbed sites extending from southwestern Canada to northern Mexico, east to Minnesota and Texas

Water:  Low to moderate water requirements
Soil: Well-drained

Mexican Hat is a tough plant from the “wide open spaces”. It prefers alkaline soil and dry conditions, but is somewhat adaptable. Plant spring summer or fall.

There are 2 species of Ratibida columnifera, one all yellow and one with red ray flowers (petals) touched with yellow. The ray flowers droop at the base of an upright 1 to 2-inch-tall brownish cone. Ratibida columnifera has an open airy growth pattern branching often above the base.

Tea was made from the leaves and flower heads. Cheyenne Indians boiled prairie coneflower leaves and stems to make a solution applied externally to draw the poison out of rattlesnake bites. An infusion was used to relieve the pain of headaches and to treat stomachaches and fevers. A decoction was used as a wash to relieve pain and to treat poison ivy rash.

Prairie coneflower is suggested for use in roadside plantings, parks, recreational areas and prairie restoration projects; where annual precipitation is from ten to thirty inches. This species is sometimes grown as an ornamental.