Purple coneflowers native to the U.S.

Purple Coneflower

Just look at this beauty!  I stumbled upon this bevy of blooming flowers on a recent walk through a landscaped area in the Woodlands.  The guy watering the area said that these flowers just keep on producing all summer long and don’t really require much care at all.  That sounds like my kind of plant.

Purple coneflower is a North American native and was actually discovered in the United States.  The flower is not only stunning but has herbal benefits.  They are super easy to grow from seed or starter plants.  According to Gardening Know-How blog by B. Grant, Echinacea purpurea is a plant in the Aster family.  Evidently these plants were “victims of the incorrect botanical classing that is only recently being unraveled thanks to DNA testing.”  They were originally put into the Rudbeckia family.  Can you believe DNA testing on plants and flowers too?

Coneflowers of all colors are so profuse across our nation and now even abroad that you may find them called by other names:  snakeroot, Kansas snakeroot, narrow-leaved coneflower, curvy root, Indian head, comb flower, black susans and hedge hog.  This hardy, drought-tolerant, long-blooming winner is being cultivated in wonderful colors now, not just the classic purple.  Look for them in petal colors of white, green-yellow, orange and deep red.

The purple colored coneflower is still the most popular among gardeners.  Its root system is more fibrous and more forgiving of dividing and transplanting than some of the wilder species of coneflower.  By the way, the common name “coneflower” refers to the way the petals angle backward, away from the center, forming a cone, according to thespruce.com.  Coneflower’s daisy-like flower is actually made up of several tiny flowers.  “The petals are sterile and are there to lure insects toward the many fertile flowers in the central cone.”  You will find that the bees and butterflies love these flowers with their rich with sweet nectar.  

Historically, the Echinacea (coneflower) was a native prairie plant that was used as medicine by folk practitioners and doctors.  The root was used by early settlers as an aid in nearly every kind of sickness.  Even if your horse or cow acted sick they would add Echinaea in its feed.  It is still a widely used herbal remedy today according to USDA Conservation Service data.  “A purple coneflower product containing the juice of the fresh aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea was found to make mouse cells 50-80 percent resistant to influenza, herpes, and vesicular viruses.”  Of course, most of us grow it for its ornamental value.  They are just down-right pretty.

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