Portrait of a Coneflower


Portrait of a Coneflower
  • Posted November 14, 2014

Origins

Coneflower is the common name for nine species of Echinacea, some of which have a long history of use as medicinal herbs. It is a purely North American genus, growing in grasslands and open woodlands of the eastern and central states, especially the prairies of the Midwest.

Personality

The herb has an easy, reliable, all-American air to it, a familiar and trustworthy member of perennial borders in gardens everywhere. Its drooping lavender petals are beautiful, yet modest; the basal leaves are hardly noticed and the stiff stalks are unpretentious as they tremble in the breeze. Coneflower is nearly perfect in its simplicity and hard not to love.

Earthly Delights

Coneflower genes are somewhat malleable and plant breeders have coaxed a handful of colorful variations from them. White, tangerine, hot pink, pale yellow and deep purple forms are all available, as well as obscure ruffled varieties and at least one unique coneflower cultivar that emits a fragrant perfume.

Curiosities

Echinacea is derived from the Greek word for sea urchin, a reference to the spiny cushion of florets at the center of the flower head. The tiny florets are full of nectar and serve as a buffet table for the butterflies often seen fluttering about a bed of coneflowers.

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Coneflower 'Magnus' (Echinacea purpurea)

Coneflower 'Magnus' (Echinacea purpurea)

A dazzling display of rose-pink daisies with dark brown, "coned" centers. The flowers attract butterflies to the garden. Seed heads are attractive in autumn and winter.

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Coneflower 'Coconut Lime' (Echinacea hybrid)

Coneflower 'Coconut Lime' (Echinacea hybrid)

The first double white Coneflower on the market! Unique pom-pom flowers with pale lime cones surrounded by white petals. Retains all the rugged features of its prairie cousin, the Purple Coneflower, but with a lot more elegance and flair. Attracts butterflies to the garden.

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Coneflower 'Cleopatra' (Echinacea hybrid)

Coneflower 'Cleopatra' (Echinacea hybrid)

This flower is named after a butterfly with similarly colored wings. Well-branched plant produces gorgeous deep golden-yellow daisies. This low-maintenance selection requires little attention.

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Coneflower 'Cheyenne Spirit' (Echinacea purpurea)

Coneflower 'Cheyenne Spirit' (Echinacea purpurea)

An excellent performer exhibiting a wide range of brilliant color all season. Birds and butterflies love this plant! One of the least demanding, most satisfying perennials in the garden. All America Selection winner in 2013.

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Common Coneflower 'White Swan' (Echinacea purpurea)

Common Coneflower 'White Swan' (Echinacea purpurea)

Showy white daisies with a coppery cone bloom in midsummer. Seed heads are attractive in autumn and winter. The flowers attract butterflies to the garden.

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Brian Barth
About the Author

After 15 years as a professional landscape designer and horticulturalist, Brian Barth embarked on a second career to share his passion—and the knowledge he's accrued—through writing. His love of plants is all-encompassing, but he has a particular soft spot for culinary crops.


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Portrait of a Coneflower

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