Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Echinacea Purpurea or Purple Coneflower

The Purple Coneflower
is only purple no more...
The once, only available in the well-known purple/pink, daisy-like flower is now available in a wide variety of colors, in addition to doubles and pompom forms. Coneflowers are deer-resistant, drought tolerant and prolific bloomers which last long and attract butterflies, birds and bees. If the flowers are not removed they will self-sow and provide food for a variety of birds, especially goldfinches.

Also known as one of the most popular herbs in America today the echinacea plant was named for the prickly scales in its large conical seed head, the herb resembles the spines of an angry hedgehog (echinos is Greek for hedgehog). Echinacea tea is one of the best known herbal remedies for boosting the immune system...though tablets are also readily available.

I have a wide variety of the basic purple coneflower though after many years, the exact species name has been lost long ago.

 Some of the variables of the basic purple coneflower are the length of the petals, whether they are reflex or upright
and the size and color of the cone.

This variety is the palest of pink, nearly white, though some years it becomes a deeper shade.

Though some white Echinacea can appear to be a daisy, they are, in fact, coneflowers...this one is a profuse bloomer called "White Swan".

"Milkshake" is a new introduction with a fully double pompom-like flower with yellow centers.

This spectacular flower isn't in my garden unfortunately but I plan on changing is called "Double Decker" and you can see why. The first year plant will sometimes produce a single-type flower but from the second year on, it should produce these double tiered beauties.

"Fatal Attraction" is one of the newer releases and though this photograph doesn't come close to doing it justice, it is, in fact, a vivid pinkish purple.

This incredibly unique flower is "Green Jewel" which holds it's color through the season...seen here with the previously mentioned "Fatal Attraction".

"Harvest Moon" is part of the "Big Sky" series of coneflowers created by Richard Saul of ItSaul Plants of Atlanta, Georgia. The classic purple coneflower (E. purpurea) is the predominant parent but the yellow-flowering Ozark prarie native coneflower (E. paradox) is responsible for the vibrant colors.

These are but a few of the many varieties of coneflower...check your local nursery center for what's available near you.


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