Stiff Coreopsis, Coreopsis palmata

Stiff Coreopsis

Coreopsis palmata

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Summer
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Yellow
Fragrance: No
Height: 2 to 3 feet
Spacing: 1 foot


Stiff Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmate) is a rhizomatous Missouri native wildflower which typically grows to 2.5 feet tall and is commonly found in prairies, glades and dry open woods. Features pale yellow, daisy-like flowers (1-2 inches diameter) with eight yellow rays (mostly untoothed at the tips) and flat yellow center disks. Ray flowers are a distinctively paler yellow than most other native species of coreopsis. Flowers bloom atop stiff, upright stems from late spring to mid-summer. Basal leaves are absent. Opposite, sessile stem leaves with pronounced veining are divided into three narrow lance-shaped segments which do not cut to the leaf base.

The blooming period occurs during early summer, lasting about 3 weeks. Afterwards, the florets are replaced by achenes. These achenes are about 5 mm. long, brown or grayish brown, oblong to elliptic-oblong in shape, slightly concave-convex, longitudinally and finely ridged, and hairless; the apices of these achenes are truncate, lacking hairs or significant scales. The root system is fibrous and long-rhizomatous, often forming colonies of clonal plants. During autumn, the deciduous foliage of this plant often acquires reddish tints.

Habitats include well-drained black soil prairies, sand prairies, gravel prairies, hill prairies, thickets, open areas of rocky upland forests, savannas, limestone glades, and abandoned fields. Prairie Coreopsis is usually found in high quality natural areas because the dispersion of its seeds is rather limited and it is infrequently cultivated.

Easily grown in dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Thrives in poor, sandy or rocky soils with good drainage. Tolerant of heat, humidity and drought. Prompt deadheading of spent flower stalks encourages additional bloom and prevents any unwanted self-seeding. Spreads by rhizomes and self-seeding, and in optimum growing conditions will naturalize to form large colonies. Plants may be cut back hard in summer if foliage sprawls or becomes unkempt. If grown in borders, division may be needed every 2-3 years to maintain robustness.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  It may sprawl across the ground unless it receives full sun.
  After first frost, cut back to 1-2 inches
  Divide plants every few years
  American Indian tribes applied boiled seeds to painful areas of their bodies
  Beekeepers consider them good honey sources
Further Information

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