Plains Coreopsis

Coreopsis tinctorum

Asteraceae – Aster Family

Plains Coreopsis is an annual wildflower native to the Great Plains of North America and the Southern regions of the United States.1 Plains Coreopsis is found in all states except Nevada, Utah, and New Hampshire (See Distribution Map). 2 The plant is on average 1.5-3 feet tall with leaves up to 6 inches long and 4 inches across.  The stems and leaves are typically smooth and a medium green shade.1  The flower heads have 6 to 12 ray florets that surround the disk florets. 1 The inner petal region is a dramatic maroon accenting the vivid yellow outer region.3 Plains Coreopsis prime bloom time is summer to late fall. 3

Plains Coreopsis grows best in conditions of full sunlight and damp, moist soil.  However, the plant is also tolerant to soil that contains sand, clay, or gravel.  The wildflower is capable of reproducing by reseeding itself. These plants are commonly placed in gardens due to their extravagant, colorful flower heads. In addition, the plants provide nectar and pollen for a wide variety of bees, wasps, butterflies, beetles, skippers, and flies.  Caterpillars and leaf beetles are also often guilty of chewing away the plants’ foliage.1

The plant is mainly used for the beautification of landscaping.  It is grown to its fullest potential in gardens, naturalized prairies, plantings in meadows, and on roadsides.4 It is an ideal plant for places with drainage issues, and areas who remain soggy for a long period of time.5 On a different note, Plains Coreopsis commonly attract butterflies and birds and are used in salads as an edible decoration.

References and Useful Websites:

1 Illinois Wildflowers
2 United States Department of Agriculture
3 Garden Guides
4 Natural Resources Conservation Service - United States Department of Agriculture 
5 Texas A&M University


  Page prepared by Mary Catherine Johnson, Biology 102, Fall 2011

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