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Echinacea Purple Coneflower

Echinacea Purple Coneflower

Echinacea Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower blooms profusely for up to two months in mid to late summer and sometimes re-blooms in the fall. Perfect for both small gardens and large prairie meadows, the showy flowers are a favorite nectar source for butterflies, bees and myriad pollinators, including hummingbirds. In late summer the large seed heads attract Goldfinches and other birds. Easy to grow, Echinacea purpurea prefers full to partial sun and medium soil conditions. Growth is best in fertile loam, but it will tolerate clay or dryer conditions. It is somewhat drought resistant, but the entire plant may wilt if the soil becomes too dry in strong sunlight. Uncommon in the wild, it is readily available commercially, and the seed is often used in land restoration. Echinacea species were used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes and are still used today in herbal medicine and tea.

In its natural environment, the Purple Coneflower attracts many insects, such as honeybees and small songbirds, because of its nectar and seeds. It grows anywhere from two to four feet tall and is tolerant to poor soil conditions, drought and extreme heat conditions. It is colorful, daisylike, and has dark green, lance shaped leaves, narrow and droopy petals, and thick, hairy stems. The genus name, Echinacea, comes from the Greek word echino, meaning hedgehog. This refers to its spiky brown cone where the petals bloom off from June to August.

The plant is native to Eastern United States, including Iowa, Ohio, and Michigan. It most commonly grows in rocky flat land regions and wooded areas, and can actually replant itself in nature as the seeds fall into the ground. Interestingly, the Purple Coneflower was thought to be in the Rudbeckia genus until fairly recent DNA testing revealed it was part of the Echinacea genus. (Source: art.msu.edu)

 

 

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