Plains coreopsis

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Plains coreopsis
Coreopsis tinctoria
Plains Coreopsis.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Coreopsis
Species: C. tinctoria
Binomial name
Coreopsis tinctoria

Coreopsis elegans
Calliopsis elegans[1]

Plains coreopsis or calliopsis, Coreopsis tinctoria, is an annual forb. The plant is common to Canada, Northeast Mexico, much of the United States, especially the Great Plains and Southern states where it is often called "calliopsis."

It often grows in disturbed areas such as roadsides and cultivated fields.


Growing quickly, Coreopsis tinctoria plants attain heights of 12 to 40 inches (30–100 cm). Leaves are pinnately-divided, glabrous and tending to thin at the top of the plant where numerous 1- to 1.5-inch (2.5-to 4-cm) flowers sit atop slender stems.

Flowers are brilliant yellow with maroon or brown centers of various sizes. Flowering typically occurs in mid-summer. The small, slender seeds germinate in fall (overwintering as a low rosette) or early spring.


The Zuni people use the blossoms of the tinctoria variety to make a mahogany red dye for yarn.[2] This variety was formerly used to make a hot beverage until the introduction of coffee by traders.[3] Women also use a infusion of whole plant of this variety, except for the root if they desire female babies.[4]


Plains coreopsis is cultivated as an ornamental plant for gardens, and as a native plant for wildlife gardens and natural landscaping. It grows well in many types of soil, but seems to prefer sandy or well-drained soils. Although somewhat drought-tolerant, naturally growing plants are usually found in areas with regular rainfall. Preferring full sun, it will also grow in partial shade.


Because of its easy growing habits and the bright, showy flowers of cultivars such as 'Roulettte' (tiger stripes of gold on a deep mahogany ground), plains coreopsis is increasingly used for landscape beautification and in flower gardens.


  1. ^ A biosystematic study of Coreopsis tinctoria and C. cardaminefolia (Compositae). Edwin B. Smith and Hampton M. Parker, Brittonia, Volume 23, Number 2, pages 161-170, doi:10.2307/2805432
  2. ^ Stevenson, Matilda Coxe 1915 Ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians. SI-BAE Annual Report #30 (p.80)
  3. ^ Stevenson, p.66
  4. ^ Stevenson, p.84

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