Pale purple coneflower
1:11 PM | Author: Atie
Echinacea pallida (Nutt.), commonly called pale purple coneflower, is a species of herbaceous perennial plant in the family Asteraceae. It is sometimes grown in gardens and used for medicinal purposes. Its native range is the south central region of the United States.

Flowers are single on end of stout hairy stem, with 15-20 purplish pink to nearly white rays (petals), each 1½ to 3 inches long and less than ¼ inch wide, with three notched teeth at the tips. Petals grow out and up, hanging down with maturity. In the center is a large round reddish brown disk covered in tiny brown disk flowers with white pollen.

Leaves are mostly basal, with stem leaves widely spaced and alternately attached on the lower half of the stem. Lower leaves are long and narrow, to 8 inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide, on long stalks, becoming smaller and stalkless as they ascend the stem. Edges are toothless and there are 3 distinct veins along the length. Stems and leaves are hairy and rough to the touch. Stems may be green or purple tinged, rarely branched.

Similar species: Glade coneflower (E. simulata) has yellow, not white pollen; it occurs mainly in the eastern Ozarks.

Size:  Height: to 3 feet.

Habitat and conservation:  Occurs in prairies, glades, savannas, openings of dry upland forests, pastures, roadsides and railroads. Along with other flowers in the genus Echinacea, this plant is often targeted by unscrupulous "root collectors" who sell them to manufacturers of herbal medicines. Such vandalism is one reason laws were enacted restricting the collecting of plants from Missouri's public highways.

Distribution in Missouri:  Scattered statewide, although apparently absent from the Mississippi Lowlands; in the eastern Ozarks, glade coneflower (Echinacea simulata) tends to predominate.

Human connections:  Though scientists debate its efficacy, this and other echinaceas are used for medicinal purposes and are threatened by root diggers. Laws restricting collection have been enacted to protect wild populations. Coneflowers are easily grown in gardens and are available at native plant nurseries.

Ecosystem connections:  The seeds of coneflowers are eaten by goldfinches, whose late-summer breeding time corresponds with the abundant seed set of these and other sunflower-family flowers such as goldenrods, ironweed and others. The tough rootstocks of coneflowers prevent erosion.

Purple cone flowers are used to make herbal teas that are designed to strengthen the immune system, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Native Americans commonly used the purple cone flower for medicine, according to Today more than 200 medicines are made from purple coneflower extract.
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