Plant Profile: Echinacea Purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

coneflower

I am not sure why specifically, but ECHINACEA PURPUREA or PURPLE CONEFLOWER is one of my favorite flowering plants. Native to the eastern and central regions of North America, the coneflowers are perennial plants in the Asteraceae (daisy) family and range in flower colors, including purple (which we will focus on here), pink, red, and white.

Echinacea purpurea has gained a lot of attention as a medicinal plant with immune-boosting properties. Although there is not solid evidence that it can prevent colds, Echinacea purpurea can be used effectively to reduce cold symptoms. Its roots are primarily used for medicinal purposes, either being steeped in hot water to make a tea or in alcohol to make a tincture. It is also used to fight many other infections, including flu, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections, to name a few. The leaves and flowers can be used medicinally as well. (See http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-981-echinacea.aspx?activeingredientid=981&activeingredientname=echinacea for additional uses and medical information.)

As a garden plant, Echinacea purpurea shares many of the beneficial qualities of other Asteraceae. Pollinators just adore coneflowers; it is a rare sight not to see someone or other crawling around the spiny center of the beautiful flower. The leaves are reminiscent of Black-Eyed Susans, with a deep dark green color, though the two are in different families. Echinacea purpurea can be grown from the seeds of dead flower heads (sow in the spring; if you clip the flower heads once they die you can also stimulate more flower production), or you can divide a large clump every three to four years.

Perhaps you may see some purple coneflower out on a hike or in a neighbor’s yard. It is a plant well worth including in your own flower bed or garden patch.

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