Description & Overview

Commonly found in Ohio, Michigan, southern Iowa, Louisiana, and Georgia, this North American native has dark green basal leaves that are up to six inches long, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem. Purple-pink, daisy-like flower heads bloom at the top of each stem in late spring through mid-summer. The rays are narrow and tend to droop downward with age. Once blooming has passed, the persistent, spikey seed head holds many narrow, brown achenes that are favored by the birds; especially goldfinches!

Purple Coneflower may also be known as Broad-leaved Purple Coneflower.

Core Characteristics

Category: Perennial

Wisconsin Native: No - Native to North America

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 24-48 inches

Mature Spread: 20-24 inches

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Upright, clump-forming, naturalizes

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Average-moist, well-drained, fertile

Flower: Purplish-pink, 10-20 rays, slightly fragrant

Bloom Period: June-August

Foliage: Dark green

Fall Color: None

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Dark, narrow, achenes, prickly seed head

Suggested Uses

Purple Coneflower is best grown in full to part sun and moist to mesic conditions, such as those found in black soil prairies. This plant looks beautiful in wildflower gardens where the iconic flowers stand out amongst other typical wildflowers.

Plant in bird-friendly gardens along the border where wildlife activity can be viewed up close. Watch the goldfinches and chickadees eat those seeds up!

Purple Coneflower tends to be a staple in prairie seed mixes used for restoration. While not a Wisconsin native, it looks fantastic when massed with other prairie forbs and grasses. For a native Wisconsin coneflower, consider Pale Purple Coneflower or Yellow Coneflower.

Coneflowers also make excellent cut flowers and hold up well in a vase or as dried.

Commonly found in Ohio, Michigan, southern Iowa, Louisiana, and Georgia, this North American native has dark green basal leaves that are up to six inc…
Commonly found in Ohio, Michigan, southern Iowa, Louisiana, and Georgia, this North American native has dark green basal leaves that are up to six inc…

Wildlife Value

Purple Coneflower supports many forms of wildlife. Those insects that use Purple Coneflower as a host plant are the Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis), Blackberry Looper Moth (Chlorochlamys chloroleucaria), Common Eupithecia Moth (Eupithecia miserulata), Wavy-lined Emerald (Synchlora aerata), and American Sunflower Moth (Homoeosoma electella).

There are quite a few specialist bees that feed solely upon plants in the Aster family (Asteraceae) such as:

Simple Miner bee (Andrena simplex), Peaceful Miner bee (Andrena placata), Aster Miner bee (Andrena asteris), Sunflower Miner bee (Andrena helianthi), Dwarf–dandelion Mining bee (Andrena krigiana), Coneflower Mining Bee (Andrena rudbeckiae), Canadian Miner Bee (Andrena canadensis), Pigmented Miner bee (Andrena chromotricha), Hairy-banded Mining bee (Andrena hirticincta), Cloudy-winged Mining bee (Andrena nubecula), Protandrena albitarsis, Eastern Bare-miner bee (Protandrena andrenoides), Agile Long-horned bee (Melissodes agilis), Drury’s long-horned bee (Melissodes druriellus), Denticulate Longhorn bee (Melissodes denticulatus), Dark-veined Longhorn bee (Melissodes trinodis), Oblique Longhorn bee (Svastra obliqua), Aster Cellophane bee (Colletes compactus), Pugnacious Leafcutter bee (Megachile pugnata), and Spine-shouldered Cellophane bee (Colletes simulans).

Other insect species that visit Purple Coneflower for the nectar and honey may include the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), Monarch (Danaus plexippus), Ottoe Skipper (Hesperia ottoe), Arogos Skipper (Atrytone arogos), Poweshiek Skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek) Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis), Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice), Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme), Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele), Sweat bees (Halictus spp.), Green Sweat bees (Agapostemon spp.), Leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.), Brown-belted Bumble bee (Bombus griseocallis), and Banded Long-horn Beetle (Typocerus velutinus).

Hummingbirds will often visit the flowers, too.

Maintenance Tips

Fertilizing is not necessary. Deadheading promotes more blooms.

Supplemental watering should be supplied during times of drought.

Commonly found in Ohio, Michigan, southern Iowa, Louisiana, and Georgia, this North American native has dark green basal leaves that are up to six inc…

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: Yes
Rabbit Resistant: No

Japanese Beetles and leaf spots are occasional pests but are not detrimental to the health of the plant. Coneflowers are also susceptible to aster yellows disease which is caused by a bacterium-like organism that lives in the tissue of plants. Although not lethal, it can cause plants to twist, and be stunted, and petals and sepals may pucker and be distorted.

Rabbits are known to chew on the petals (rays).

Leaf Lore

The genus name Echinacea comes from the Greek word ‘ekhinos’, meaning “hedgehog” or “sea urchin” referring to the prickly seed heads. The specific epithet purpurea means “purple.”

Purple Coneflower has long been used for medicinal purposes. Some of these purposes include treatment for stings and snakebites, cough, bronchitis, fever, urinary tract infections, inflammation of the mouth, toothaches, and wounds and burns. Modern herbalists use it for its general stimulatory effect on the immune system.

There are hundreds of hybrid varieties on the market now, ranging in size, color, and single or double flowers. According to Allan Armitage in his book “Herbaceous Perennial Plants” if you’re going to buy a hybrid, lean toward those that have more Echinacea purpurea germplasm in the parentage, as it will be more vigorous. Many cultivated varieties can revert to the straight species, taking on the color and form of Echinacea purpurea.

There is also a hybrid of two different plants called Echibeckia. This is a cross between Echinacea purpurea and Rudbeckia hirta just in case more options are needed!

Companion Plants

These options all look great when paired with Purple Coneflower:

Commonly found in Ohio, Michigan, southern Iowa, Louisiana, and Georgia, this North American native has dark green basal leaves that are up to six inc…
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Written by Beth DeLain