Mexican Hat flower

12 Interesting Facts About Mexican Hat

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The Mexican hat plant (Ratibida columnifera) may sound like an exotic tropical species, but it is a hardy prairie wildflower native across much of North America. Also called upright prairie coneflower, its showy sombrero-shaped flowers in warm shades of yellow, red, and brown give it year-round appeal.

Beyond its ornamental qualities, this tough perennial has a fascinating history. It has cultural significance for indigenous peoples, unique botanical adaptations, and requires very little care in the garden. Read on for 12 intriguing facts about this eye-catching plant!

The Mexican hat plant (Ratibida columnifera) is a unique and eye-catching wildflower that can make a great addition to gardens. With its sombrero-shaped flower heads and tall, slender shape, this perennial prairie plant brings drama and texture to landscapes.

Here areĀ 12 fascinating facts about the Mexican hat plant:

Mexican Hat
Mexican Hat by Sam Huckins is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 .

Facts About Mexican Hat (Plants)

  1. The Mexican hat plant is named for its flowers, which are shaped like the wide brims and tall crowns of Mexican sombreros. The flowers come in shades of yellow, red, and brown.
  2. It grows wild across much of North America, especially in the Great Plains and Midwest. Its native habitat includes prairies, meadows, roadsides, and open wooded areas.
  3. The Mexican hat is drought-tolerant once established and thrives in full sun. It does best in well-drained soils. This makes it an excellent choice for xeriscaping.
  4. This plant is a favorite for butterflies and bees. Its nectar-rich, single-petaled flowers attract a variety of pollinators from late summer into fall.
  5. Flower heads can grow over 12 inches wide on mature plants. The colorful “brims” spread flat while the “crown” of small, tubular flowers rises tall.
  6. Mexican hat is a short-lived perennial with a lifespan of just a few years. Allow some flowers to go to seed to ensure new plants the following year.
  7. Once established, its deep roots make it quite drought tolerant. Just provide supplemental water during extended dry periods.
  8. When happy, these wildflowers will self-sow to form handsome stands. Thin overcrowded seedlings in spring.
  9. In addition to the species plant, there are some cultivars available:
    • ‘Gold Cover’ has large golden blooms
    • ‘Red Roofs’ features saturated red hats
    • ‘Sundance’ has yellow-gold flowers and maroon centers
  10. While the common name refers to Mexican hats, this plant is native to North America, not Mexico. Some sources suggest its name comes from its resemblance to hats worn by indigenous peoples.
  11. All parts of this plant are edible. The leaves and seeds have an aromatic flavor and can be used as a seasoning or steeped as an herbal tea.
  12. In some Native American legends, seeing a Mexican hat flower is considered good luck. It represented guidance and blessings from the ancestors.

With its uniquely shaped blooms and easy care nature, the Mexican hat wildflower brings cheerful color and texture to gardens and landscapes. This tough prairie native thrives with little care and gives back by attracting pollinators.

If you have a sunny, well-drained spot, why not add a few Mexican hats? These interesting plants are sure to start conversations!


With its ability to thrive in challenging growing conditions, the Mexican hat plant is an ideal choice for xeriscaping and native plant gardens. Its striking flowers attract beneficial pollinators, while its edible and medicinal properties make it a versatile wildflower. After learning these 12 fascinating details about Ratibida columnifera, you can see why it deserves more widespread appreciation and use in landscapes. Give this little-known prairie native a try to add vibrant, hardy color to your outdoor space.

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