Highlight: Coneflower

Coneflower is a popular medicinal herb.

Contributed photo

Known more as a medicinal herb and by its Latin name, coneflower or Echinacea is a delightful prairie wildflower that works just as well in refined home gardens.

It blooms in summer and again in autumn, although autumn bloom can be inhibited if plants are not groomed of deteriorating stems from the previous bloom. Like related gaillardia and rudbeckia, coneflower is a nice cut flower.

Flowers start out like any other daisy flower, but then fold back with the long ray florets hanging downward around the more rigid centers of darkly colored disc florets, forming cones. Flowers can stand almost 3 feet high, mostly on unbranched stems. Many popular varieties stay lower.

Leaves and stems are somewhat hairy or raspy.

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Old varieties were mostly purple or lavender. Newer varieties can be orange, yellow, red, pink, white or green.

Big plants can be divided after autumn bloom or in spring. -- Tony Tomeo

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