Echinacea purpurea (Eastern Purple Coneflower)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist rich prairie, fields, woodland edges|
|Bloom season:||July - October|
|Plant height:||2 to 4 feet|
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Flowers are single on end of stout stem, with 15-20 rich pink to purplish rays (petals), each 1½ to 3 inches long and ¼ to ¾ inch wide, with 3 notched teeth at the tip. Rays grow out and up, curving down with maturity. In the center is a large orange-brown disk, round to conical in shape, covered in tiny disk flowers with yellow pollen.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are mostly alternate, sometimes opposite, 3 to 6 inches long, 1 to 3 inches wide, lance-like, broader at the base, tapering to a point, stalked, becoming smaller and stalkless as they ascend the stem. Leaves have serrated edges and 3 or 5 distinct veins along the length. Stems and leaves are smooth or hairy to varying degrees. Stems are mostly unbranched, typically brownish green.
A native of eastern moist to mesic prairie, Eastern Purple Coneflower is the species typically found in the nursery trade and many colored variants are becoming more common. It can make for thick showy stands in the garden but is subject to aster yellows, a phytoplasma spread by leafhoppers that affects a large number of herbaceous species and causes stunting and yellowing of the foliage and blasting of the flower heads. Affected plants should be pulled and can be left in the garden as they pose no risk to healthy plants after uprooting. Eastern Purple Coneflower is not native to Minnesota, but is common in roadside plantings, both urban and rural, as well as increasingly a garden escapee. Its flowers are similar to our native Echinacea angustifolia (Narrow-leaved Purple Coneflower), which has mostly basal leaves that are long and narrow.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in private garden in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?