Mexican Hat Plant
All about the Mexican Hat Plant
The Mexican hat plant is well-known by anyone who lives in the Southwestern United States but if you live on the East Coast, chances are you have never heard of this plant. It is considered to be a wildflower and because it is so good at reseeding itself, it can be considered almost invasive in some locations. The Mexican hat plant is in the aster family.
If you want to plant the Mexican hat plant, you can find seeds readily available. You can also find it in many of the packets of wildflower seeds that are sold in warm regions of the United States. The plant will grow almost anywhere, especially in soil that is not conducive to other flowers. It really needs no help at all in thriving under just about any condition. It is prolific in USDA hardiness zone 9 and above.
The Mexican hat plant is native to the United States. And, why is it named “Mexican hat plant?“ You guessed it! It looks exactly like a Mexican hat--the kind with a high center and wide brim that you might see during fiestas in Mexico. The flowers are either yellow or yellow-brown with a circular reddish-brown center. The whole plant, from the ground to the top of the hat, can range anywhere from one foot to three feet. The flowers usually bloom from May through July.
Other flowers in the same Aster family that are most like the Mexican hat plant include black-eyed Susans, the purple coneflower, sunflowers, and Shasta daisies. You can often find fields of this plant that have thousands of flowers in bloom. It routinely grows along the sides of the road as a wildflower. In fact, just as many people hate this plant as love it. That’s because once introduced into a yard, it does tend to become invasive.
The Mexican hat plant is next to impossible to eliminate, once it has established itself in a yard. It reseeds easily and the wind carries the seeds to new spots. Just a seed lying innocently on the ground will produce a new plant. And, these seeds are so small that there are well over a million in one pound. If you want these plants in your yard, be very careful about the amount of space you allocate for them and take extra precautions to keep their expansion in check.
The hat plant will grow anywhere there is a space. This includes cracks in pavement or concrete, driveways and walkways. In cities, this plant regularly grows up through cracks in the sidewalk and in parking lots. As for its benefits, the Mexican hat plant is a beautiful and unique-looking flower. It blooms in the spring and can be refreshing to see after a long winter.
The Aztecs used the Mexican hat plant for medicinal purposes, as they did with many other plants. It was applied to the surface of the skin after a snake bite and after exposure to poison ivy. It is thought to have been prepared as a tea as well, and used to treat stomach problems, headaches and other ailments. Please note: there are no factual accounts that this is true and there have been no studies done to prove that the Mexican hat plant can benefit any health problems. In fact, there are accounts also claiming that all parts of the plant are poisonous to humans. At this time it is not advisable to ingest any part of this plant.
One known effect of the plant is that its smell deters deer. Its nectar also attracts many types of bees and butterflies. It draws birds which eat the seeds of the plant.