Friday, June 26, 2009

Purple Coneflower

The pretty flower is the Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). They are native to the Eastern United States. Considered a prairie flower, they are now finding favor with gardeners everywhere. They are extremely drought tolerant. They are very forgiving of harsh weather conditions, and it doesn't get much more unpredictable than Missouri weather. It has always been said, if you don't like the weather, wait a day and it will change. These daisy-like flowers are a beautiful accent to nature landscapes. They grow to around 3 feet in height, but heights of 5 feet are also possible, which makes them great for the backside of the garden. Once established they will spread exponentially. Many hybrids have been created, and I admit to loving them as well. I added one this year called "Tomato Soup" and it is supposed to bloom red. I hope it establishes itself with as much stamina as the purple variety. As you can see by the second picture they can be quite showy in large numbers. This is a photo from my backyard garden near our pond. Once they start blooming it isn't long and the butterflies show up. They are a favorite among many species of butterflies. The genus name of Echinacea comes from the Greek word echino which means "hedgehog". This is in reference to spiny center globe of flower. The flowers of this species is ground down to make an herbal tea. This tea is reported to have properties that help build the immune system. You can now buy it as an herbal supplement in pill or liquid form. They transplant well in early spring or in the fall way before or after blooming. Or you can keep the seeds and plant them the following spring. I recommend these flowers highly, they offer a lot of impact in the garden, and attract many wonderful insects as well as birds like American Goldfinches which favor the seeds. Some control may need to be implemented should they take over as they have in my garden. I dig them and move them to other areas. I also plan to sell some next spring.

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