Echinacea purpurea

The genus Echinacea consists of nine species of summer flowering perennials which belong to the daisy family, Asteraceae and originate in dry prairies, gravelly hillsides and open woodlands in the eastern USA.  They are commonly called ‘coneflowers’ and spread by rhizomes which can colonise large areas after a few years.  The dried rhizomes and roots are widely used as an ingredient in herbal medicines as they are thought to boost the immune system’s power to fend off infection,

Echinacea purpurea has oval, rough-hairy basal leaves to 15 cm and toothed oval-lance shaped stem leaves.  The flowers are borne on upright red-tinted stems 50-120 cm in height through summer and autumn.  The flower heads are up to 12 cm across with golden brown cone shaped discs with partly reflexed magenta-purple ray-florets.

‘Rich Red’ is a well branched, bushy variety to 40 cm forming neat clumps with rich red petals surrounding the orange/brown cone.  It is quite drought and frost hardy.

Grow Echinaceas in a sunny herbaceous border or in an open woodland.  They respond well to deep, well drained, humus rich soil.

Photos by Anne Day. Article by Shane Williams.  Both Anne and Shane are members of the Growing Friends.