Compatible, Adaptable Coneflowers

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Published on: May. 16, 2013

region of the state.

While purple coneflowers require soils with some moisture, others coneflowers such as Echinacea simulata, or glade coneflower, thrive upon the harsh, dry barrens, bald knobs and ridges typically found in the Ozarks region.

Absent from most of Missouri, except for the southeastern corner of the state and Dunklin County in the Bootheel, glade coneflowers enjoy life in the sun. Growing where many plants would shrivel up and die due to dry, harsh conditions, this species is at home upon Missouri’s sun-bathed limestone and dolomite glades, savannas, and bluff tops. Similar in appearance to pale purple coneflower, glade coneflowers display pink flowers in a shade intermediate between purple coneflower and pale purple coneflower. Habitat preference and bright lemon-colored pollen help to set this species apart from its relatives.

Pale purple coneflower, Echinacea pallida, which is usually lighter in color than purple coneflower and glade coneflower, is considered the most widespread Echinacea in Missouri. Like most coneflowers in our state, it is absent from the Bootheel region. Pale coneflower is slender in all respects, but is far from being a shrinking violet. Flowerheads with light pink to nearly white petals sit proudly atop 30- to 36-inch-tall stiff stems adorned with only a few long, narrow, rough-textured leaves. When in full bloom, the fresh white pollen of this species is carried from plant to plant on the tiny feet of bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects.

Echinacea pallida prefers dry, sunny habitats such as glades, rocky savannas, native upland prairies, roadsides, and railroad right-of-ways. Occasionally, outdoor enthusiasts who happen upon an old pasture, field, or wooded clearing may be delighted with a blooming population during a spring trek in late May into June. There is nothing quite like a warm, gentle spring breeze, the rhythmic melody of songbirds, and a patch of butterfly-adorned coneflowers to sooth your senses.

Another Missouri coneflower species often sought by herbal collectors is yellow coneflower, Echinacea paradoxa. With vibrant yellow sunray petals and deep brown, bristly cone centers, the yellow coneflower showcases a dramatically different color scheme than that of its purple and pink cousins.

Endemic to the Ozarks, bright yellow coneflowers may be found primarily growing upon dry dolomite and limestone glades and savannas and occasionally roadsides, especially where a highway cuts through a limestone or dolomite hillside or bald knob.

June is the perfect time of year to check out this spectacular

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