Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Coreopsis tinctoria Nutt.

Fully hardy erect annual, bearing solitary, bright yellow flower heads, shading to brown red at the bases.  Darker colour variants are available.  In early Victorian gardens the darker flowered forms, in shades of scarlet purple, edged with yellow, were often known as Calliopsis bicolor.  To 1.2m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘Native of the whole of the Arkansas territory, as far as the Red River, North America, where it was discovered by Professor Nuttall, during his travels in that country. […] Communicated by Mr. Anderson from the Chelsea garden, in September 1823.’  [BM t.2512/1824].  Several forms were recognised in victorian gardens.  The Floricultural Cabinet figures Calliopsis tinctoria var. atropurpurea, with rich purple-crimson flowers with yellow-edged petals, ‘it far exceeds in beauty the common kind.’  [FC p.96/1836].  ‘The centre [of the flower] is yellow, surrounded by a circle of dark purple, beyond which, to the extremities of the petals, is of a fine red scarlet colour.  It is a splendid flowering annual, and deserves a place in every flower garden.’  [FC p.235/1836].  ‘The flowers [of Calliopsis bicolor atrosanguinea] are liable to vary, some being entirely of that fine deep blood colour, which composes the centre of the old C. bicolor (Coreopsis tinctoria), and others have a very narrow margin of rich yellow.’  [MB p.243/1835].  BM t.3511/1836.

History at Camden Park

Listed as Calliopsis bicolor [H.34/1843] and Coreopsis tinctoria [H.83/1843] in all published catalogues.


As garden forms are quite variable in colour we can assume that there were distinct differences between the plants identified as Coreopsis tinctoria and Calliopsis bicolor.  From the description of Calliopsis bicolor atrosanguinea given in Paxton’s Magazine of Botany it would seem that the ‘centre of the old C. bicolor (Coreopsis tinctoria)’ was a ‘fine deep blood colour’ and the rest of the flower ‘rich yellow’.  [MB p.243/1835].

Published Sep 15, 2009 - 04:38 PM | Last updated Jul 14, 2010 - 04:18 PM

Figured is a flowering stem with yellow daisy flower, reddish in the centre.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.2512, 1824.

Coreopsis tinctoria Nutt. | BM t.2512/1824 | BHL

Family Asteraceae
Region of origin

North America

  • Calliopsis bicolor Rchb.
  • Coreopsis bicolor Bosse ex Buchenau
  • Calliopsis tinctoria DC. 
Common Name

Golden Tickseed

Name in the Camden Park Record

Calliopsis bicolor

Coreopsis tinctoria

Confidence level high