Wednesday in the garden: Purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)
The purple coneflowers are blooming. These members of the sunflower, or Asteraceae, family can grow up to four feet tall, but the tallest of mine are around three feet. They are native to North America, where they can be found growing wild in the eastern to central parts of the continent. They grow in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas and bloom from early to late summer.
There are many cultivated varieties of the plant and although they are referred to in general as purple coneflowers, they also come in other colors, including red and white, but purple still seems to be the most popular color.
The generic name comes from the Greek word, ekhinos, meaning hedgehog. It is descriptive of the spiny central part of the flower which you can see in this close-up.
Echinacea is widely used in folk and herbal medicine. Many people swear by its efficacy in the treatment of various illnesses from the common cold to cancer. There have been several scientific studies done on products made from echinacea to try to prove or disprove their benefits, but no conclusive evidence has been found to support their effectiveness. That has not stopped proponents from buying and using these products.
I don't use the herbal products. I just grow them for their beauty and because butterflies love them. Anyway, what's not to love?