Flower Variations

I’ve had to do a lot of digging online to discover the variations between flower species. When you say that a flower is part of the sunflower family that’s like saying a trout is a fish. It’s too generalized. I’ve photographed a number of flowers at the Oregon zoo that are all Rudbeckia. Depending on the actual flower that may be a “Black Eyed Susan”, (Rudbeckia Hirta) or a Rudbeckia Hirta Irish Eyes (Rudbeckia Gloriosa) or a cone flower. I’m no botanist but I can certainly see a huge difference between the four yet there are similarities. Sunflower, Irish Eyes, Black Eyed Susans, cone flower, it gets kind of complicated.

The other thing that’s maddening is that should you google images of any of these names all three varieties will be shown in that same collection. Again, the look vastly different from each other yet are clumped together but with different names. If there are any botanists reading this please enlighten us about this mystery.


Sunflower 2

Rudbeckia Gloriosa Irish Eyes

Rudbeckia #7

Black Eyed Susans

Black Eyed Susans In The Sun

Cone Flower

Cone Flower #9

Scientific Mumbo Jumbo



10 thoughts on “Flower Variations

  1. The books on these things are not very well organized and neither are the web sites. It’s very frustrating. However, at least the sunflower and black-eyed Susan are pretty hard to confuse with anything else. If you don’t go to an all flowers site, but just look for garden (cultivated) flowers (rather than one which includes wild flowers), you might have an easier time. Books are faster than the Internet, for this kind of thing. MUCH faster, for birds and flowers. And the bird books are better organized.

    • I have a bird book of Oregon native birds on my kindle. It uses the primary color of the bird in question which makes it very fast at identifying the critter. That would be impossible to duplicate with flowers since there are so many colors for some species. Imagine trying to identify a petunia or rose?

      • All my bird book identify by shape and category. Most birders can tell which groups a bird falls into by it’s outline and general stance. Shape is especially important with hawks and other birds of prey since you often only see them as silhouettes against the sky. And even now, I can’t recognize the exact feather configuration of an eagle versus a vulture or a really big hawk. They won’t hold still, dammit.

        Newer books cross reference within groups by color — and sometimes by song, which is great when you can hear them, but not see them. I’ve been following birds around for more then 40 years … longer than I’ve been taking pictures. Birding is the hobby I’ve had the longest, not counting reading.

  2. All that stuff you call mumbo-jumbo is a system of classification. All flowers with petals around a center that becomes the seed pod are part of the a group. There are local, non-Latin names (nicknames) for them which you’ll find in any seed catalog. But if you have a cross-regional or worse, international, group of botanists or gardeners, local names are meaningless. You need the Latin names because everyone knows them.

    When I lived in Israel, learning the local name of a bird didn’t mean anything to me. I needed the genus and species so I knew what type of bird I was looking at — thrush, wren, finch, falcon, bee-eater, gull. If you study this stuff, you need categories or it’s just a jumble of information.

  3. So, yes, these flowers are all of the Same Tribe, so are all related and look similar. Sunflowers, rudbeckia, and echinacea are subclassifications (genus), then each genus has multiple species. Within each species there can also be color variations. Black eyed Susan is a species of the genus rudbeckia.

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