Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Coneflower ID, Late Mayfly, Aloe Vera & Black Locust Wood


The basal rosettes of a either a black-eyed Susan or a purple coneflower. Photo: Mary Steiner, Vernon Parish.


Black-eyed Susan wildflowers. Photo: Dr. Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter, retired.

Coneflower ID

Mary went to the Leesville office of the AgCenter to have a plant identified. She wanted to know, “Can you identify this? Is it rudbeckia, black-eyed Susan, or a weed? If a weed what to do.”AHA consulted with Mr. Kerry Heafner, an AgCenter horticulture agent, and he narrowed down the identity of Mary’s plant, “I would certainly say either Rudbeckia or an Echinacea. Basal rosettes are tough [to identify]!”

Both plants are coneflowers and are native to the United States. The black-eyed Susan is a member of the rudbeckia plants and has yellow petals.

Purple coneflowers have purple petals, but other coneflower varieties can come in white, rosy-pink, orange-red, bright orange, and golden yellow colors. These coneflowers, or echinacea, have medicinal properties. The NC State Extension website noted these benefits, “This was an important plant to the Native Americans to treat may ailments. Early settlers used the medicinal root for almost any kind of sickness. It became the only native prairie plant commonly used by both doctors and folk practitioners as medicine. People also used echinacea to support cows and horses when they weren't eating well.”

Because these plants are native wildflowers, they may be considered desirable so weed treatment is unnecessary unless it is growing where it is unwanted.


Purple coneflowers.
Photo: Dr. Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter, retired.


An image of a late season mayfly. Photo: Kathy DuPuy.

Late Mayfly

Kathy sent in an image of an insect to identify, “Can you please identify for me? Thank you.”

Dr. Sebe Brown, an insect specialist with the LSU AgCenter, helped with identifying this insect, “It’s a mayfly. I think the warm spell we just had caused a large emergence. [You] probably won’t see to many more.”

Dr. Dale Pollet, retired AgCenter entomologist, shared this observation about mayflies, “These harmless insects are on occasion so abundant that their sheer numbers can cause problems. Their collection under lights on roadways can lead to skidding and slipping tires and unforeseen accidents or even people slipping as they walk through them. Mayflies are easy to recognize because the wings are triangular and held straight up over the body. They usually possess two long, hair-like tails at the end of the abdomen. The larvae are aquatic and are often found around water sources.”


An aloe vera plant. Photo: LSU AgCenter.

Aloe Vera

Jean has an aloe vera plants and wanted to know, “What is the best environment for an aloe-vera? I have a free one, but it is dying slowly. Any suggestions [are welcome].”

Dr. Heather Kirk-Ballard wrote an article, “How to be succulent savvy “in her Get It Growing column earlier this year about plants like aloe vera, “Succulents [like aloe vera] are plants that can store water in their leaves and stems, allowing them to survive in very dry places — think deserts. Succulents conserve water in their thick, fleshy leaves, which come in unique shapes and forms.”

She goes on to write about the care for succulents:

  • “In general, succulents need about four to six hours of bright light.”
  • “Another reason succulents and cacti make good indoor plants is that they can tolerate low humidity. Providing adequate humidity for houseplants becomes especially difficult in the winter with the use of heaters.”
  • “Good drainage is key to successfully growing succulents. Use porous containers such as terra cotta, clay and concrete pots.”
  • “The No. 1 problem with cacti and succulents is overwatering.”
  • “Pests are rarely a concern for succulents, but mealybugs and scale can be a problem. You can use an insecticidal soap or wipe them off.”


Black locust lumber. Photo: Chip Morrison, Purdue University.

Black Locust Wood

Tom from Sugartown asked a question about “hardscaping” for his yard, “Would Locust be a good wood to make a swing out of that will be outside?”The short answer for Tom is “yes”. Dr. Daniel Cassens, an Extension Wood Products Specialist at Purdue University, commends black locust for its decay resistance, “The heartwood is rated as very resistant to decay. This resistance has resulted in specialty uses for the wood. It is important to note that only the heartwood is resistant and even the heartwood of some young, fast-growth trees may not have the resistance of older trees from which the species earned this reputation.”

Black locust is a native tree with thorns, but it has commercial value, “The positive aspects of black locust are its decay resistance and dimensional stability. Due to these two properties, and the strength of the wood, it is used as insulator pins and tree nails in ships. It is also used for posts, mine timbers, railroad ties, and frames.”

Black locust is a host tree for several butterflies, and its flowers attract both honeybees and native bees.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 318.264.2448 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

The AgCenter provides equal opportunity in programs and employment.

11/8/2021 10:00:43 PM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture