Echinacea purpurea is a perennial herbaceous plant commonly known as the Eastern Purple Coneflower.
There are nine coneflower species in the Echinacea genus, they are native to prairies, and in the case of E. purpurea rock-strewn open woodland areas, of North America.
Other commonly grown members of the genus include Echinacea angustifolia (Narrow-leaf), Echinacea pallida (Pale Purple), and Echinacea paradoxa (Yellow Coneflower).
The leaves, roots, and flowers of Coneflowers have traditionally been used as herbal remedies by Native American tribes for problems ranging from infections to the flu. When rubbed onto the skin it is said to be helpful for treating wounds, bee stings, burns, and rattlesnake bites. It is thought to fight infections through reducing inflammations, and one of the chemicals that it contains – L-DOPA – has been shown to have anti-depressant properties. The flowers are used to make herbal tea.
They make a great plant to grow in a wild-life garden as they attract birds, bees, wasps, and butterflies. Other advantages to growing Echinacea purpurea are that they are drought and deer tolerant, a great combination for many gardeners.
Echinacea purpurea photograph by Jordan Meeter.
Echinacea purpurea can be used throughout the garden in locations such as beds and borders, and as part of wild life, cottage or meadow landscape. They look fantastic when grown in mass with Black-eyed Susan.
It is commonly grown as a cut-flower because of its large daisy-like flowers and hedgehog shaped central disc.
Echinacea purpurea plants reach heights of between 24 and 72 inches, usually about 36 inches (60–180; 90 cm), and have a spread of 6 to 24 inches (15–60 cm). Plants are clump forming and upright.
Leaves are present from spring to autumn, and are lance-shaped, coarse, dark green, upright, toothed, and about four to six inches (10–15 cm) in length.
Purple Coneflower picture by asdfawev.
Flowers come into bloom from the middle of summer through to early fall/autumn. Single six inch (15 cm) rayed (daisy-like) flowers appear atop long smooth stems. The flower rays are usually red-purple with greenish tips, though some varieties can be white or pink.
The central disc is orange-brown and spiky, given rise to the species scientific name Echinacea (Echinos is the Greek word for hedgehog).