A perennial plant with large, daisy-like flowers with slightly drooping magenta “petals” (ray flowers). Blooms May through October. Flowerheads are usually solitary, terminal, and quite large. The disk (center) is orange and spiny. The ray flowers are various shades of magenta or rose-purple. Basal leaves have long stems and grow to 6 inches long; they are coarsely toothed, oblong, and rounded at the base. Upper leaves are smaller, lance-shaped, and may or may not have stems.
Height: to about 3 feet.
Where To Find
Scattered nearly throughout the state, though mostly absent from the Bootheel and northwestern Missouri.
Appears in openings in moist woods and wooded bottomlands, upland prairies, savannas, pastures, and roadsides, preferring moister soils than other species of coneflower. Many species of coneflowers have suffered in the wild due to indiscriminate, often illegal root-digging for the international herbal medicine market. This species, along with various hybrids and culivars, is commonly available at garden centers.
Though this species is scattered in the wild, it is widely grown in cultivation.
In gardens, purple coneflowers are showy, long-blooming, hardy, and good for cut flowers. Native Americans used the roots of coneflowers to make medicines, and modern herbalists continue to use this extract, called “Echinacea” after the genus name, for treating the common cold and other ailments.
This species is a good nectar source for butterflies and bees. In winter, goldfinches relish its seeds. Its network of root fibers help to bind soils, protecting against erosion.
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!