The black-eyed Susan, a member of the sunflower family, is the state flower of Maryland. It was adopted in 1918 by the Maryland General Assembly as the state floral emblem despite a multitude of controversy surrounding its nomination. While it is not a native flower of the state, it grows profusely along the roadsides and in the fields of Maryland. The flowers bloom from spring to late fall, producing bright and vibrant yellow petals with a dark brown center.
While the state flower of Maryland is not native to that state, it is native to the United States. The black-eyed Susan hails from the Midwest, east of the Rocky Mountains. In 1896, the Maryland Agricultural College suggested that a floral emblem be adopted as the state flower of Maryland. A group of women at the college suggested the black-eyed Susan because of its beautiful colors, which were also the colors of the famous Lord Baltimore’s coat of arms. The controversy stemmed not only from the fact that the black-eyed Susan was not a native flower, but also from the belief held by many that it was not a flower at all, but a weed that had been transferred from the Midwestern states through hayseed and clover.
Despite the opposition, the black-eyed Susan was adopted as the state flower of Maryland by an act of the General Assembly on 18 April 1918. The black-eyed Susan now seems a natural choice, as its colors seem to complement the Maryland flag and its other state symbols. Maryland’s state bird is the Baltimore oriole, which is black and gold. The state insect is the Baltimore checkerspot, and the state cat is the calico.
Rudbeckia hirta is the scientific name for the black-eyed Susan. The state flower of Maryland grows to a height of approximately 2 to 3 feet (0.61 to 0.91 meters), and the daisy-like flowers can be seen swaying in the wind alongside the roads of Maryland. Other common names include Brown Betty, Blackiehead, Gloriosa Daisy, Brown-eyed Susan, Golden Jerusalem, Yellow Daisy, and Poorland Daisy.
Native Americans used the root and leaves of the black-eyed Susan to fight off common cold symptoms and viruses. The Ojibwa created a poultice from the plant to treat snake bites and open wounds. The Potawatomi and Menominee also used the roots as a diuretic. Juice extracted from the roots of the plant has also been used to treat earaches.