Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower,[2] hedgehog coneflower,[3] or purple coneflower) is a North American species of flowering plant in the sunflower family.[4][5] It is native to eastern North America[4] and present to some extent in the wild in much of the eastern, southeastern and midwestern United States as well as in the Canadian Province of Ontario. It is most common in the Ozarks and in the Mississippi/Ohio Valley.[6][7]

Echinacea purpurea
Echinacea purpurea Grandview Prairie.jpg
Echinacea purpurea at a prairie preserve in southwest Arkansas
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Echinacea
E. purpurea
Binomial name
Echinacea purpurea
  • Brauneria purpurea (L.) Britton
  • Echinacea intermedia Lindl. ex Paxton
  • Echinacea speciosa (Wender.) Paxton
  • Helichroa purpurea (L.) Raf.
  • Rudbeckia purpurea L.


Echinacea purpurea is an herbaceous perennial up to 120 cm (47 in) tall by 25 cm (10 in) wide at maturity. Depending on the climate, it blooms throughout summer into autumn. Its cone-shaped flowering heads are usually, but not always, purple in the wild. Its individual flowers (florets) within the flower head are hermaphroditic, having both male and female organs in each flower. It is pollinated by butterflies and bees. The alternate leaves, borne by a petiole from 0 to 17 cm, are oval to lanceolate, 5-30 x 5-12 cm; the margin is tightened to toothed. The leaves are deciduous but the plant is perennial.

The inflorescence is a capitulum, 7 to 15cm in diameter, formed by a prominent domed central protuberance consisting of multiple small yellow florets. These are surrounded by a ring of pink or purple ligulate florets. The tubular florets are hermaphrodite while the ligular florets are sterile. The involucral bracts are linear to lanceolate. Its habitats include dry open woods, prairies and barrens. The plant prefers well-drained soils in full sun.[2] The fruit is an achene, sought after by birds.


Echinacea purpurea is also grown as an ornamental plant in temperate regions. It is ideal for curbs, walkways or beds. The flowers can also go into the composition of fresh bouquets. Numerous cultivars have been developed for flower quality and plant form.[5] The plant grows in sun or light shade.[3] It thrives in either dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought once established. The cultivars 'Ruby Giant'[8] and ‘Elbrook’[9] have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[10]


Echinacea purpurea can be propagated either vegetatively or from seeds.[4] Useful vegetative techniques include division, root cuttings, and basal cuttings. Clumps can be divided, or broken into smaller bunches, which is normally done in the spring or autumn. Cuttings made from roots that are "pencil-sized" will develop into plants when started in late autumn or early winter.[5] Cuttings of basal shoots in the spring may be rooted when treated with rooting hormones, such as IBA at 1000 ppm.[11]

Plants raised outdoors

Seed germination occurs best with daily temperature fluctuations[4] or after stratification,[12] which help to end dormancy. Seeds may be started indoors in advance of the growing season or outdoors after the growing season has started.


Slugs eat this plant.[4] Rabbits will also eat the foliage when young, or shortly after emerging in the spring.[13] Additionally, roots can be damaged and eaten by gophers.[6]


Echinacea purpurea contains multiple substances, such as polysaccharides, caffeic acid derivatives (including caftaric and cichoric acids), alkylamides, and glycoproteins.[14]


Traditional herbal medicineEdit

Native Americans used the plant to treat many ailments, including wounds, burns, insect bites, toothaches, throat infections, pain, cough, stomach cramps, and snake bites.[15]

Present-day usesEdit

The plant is important economically, to the pharmaceutical trade.[citation needed] It is purported[weasel words] that all parts of the purple coneflower stimulate the immune system.[3]

Well-controlled trials studying these uses are limited and low in quality.[16][17][18][19] Study results are mixed on whether preparations including Echinacea can be useful for upper respiratory tract infections including colds.[20]

Side effects include gastrointestinal effects and allergic reactions, including rashes, increased asthma, and life-threatening anaphylaxis.[20]


'Echinacea' is derived from Greek, meaning ‘spiny one’, in reference to the spiny sea urchins 'εχίνοι'. 'Purpurea' means 'reddish-purple'.[21] Originally named Rudbeckia purpurea by Linnaeus in 1753 in Species plantarum 6 , it was reclassified in 1794 by Conrad Moench , in a new genus named Echinacea purpurea (L.). In 1818, Thomas Nuttall describes a new variety that he named Rudbeckia purpurea var. serotina. Just two decades later, De Candolle raises him to the rank of species of the other genus Echinacea serotina (Nutt.) DC. (1836).[22] In 2002, Binns et al. discovered a misapplication of the name Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench for the taxon correctly named Echinacea serotina (Nutt.) DC. in 1836. The authors proposed to retain the names not to cause confusion among gardeners and herbalists (for further details see Binns et al.[23]



  1. ^ The Plant List, Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench
  2. ^ a b Flora of North America, Eastern purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea (Linnaeus) Moench, Methodus. 591. 1794.
  3. ^ a b c Midgley, Jan W. (1999). Southeastern Wildflowers: Your complete guide to plant communities, identification, and traditional uses. Crane Hill Publishers. ISBN 978-1-57587-106-6.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Echinacea purpurea - (L.)Moench". Plants For A Future. June 2004. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
  5. ^ a b c "Bruce Zimmerman. Echinacea: Not always a purple coneflower". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  6. ^ a b "Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench (eastern purple coneflower)". PLANTS Profile. United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  7. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  8. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Echinacea purpurea 'Ruby Giant'". Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  9. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Echinacea 'Elbrook'". Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  10. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 33. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  11. ^ Carey, Dennis; Avent, Tony. "Echinacea Explosion - The Purple Coneflower Chronicles". Plant Delights Nursery Article. Plant Delights Nursery. Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  12. ^ USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  13. ^ "Echinacea – How To Grow Purple Coneflower". Growit Buildit. 2018-09-16. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  14. ^ Manček, Kreft S (2005). "Determination of cichoric acid content in dried press juice of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) with capillary electrophoresis". Talanta. 66 (5): 1094–1097. doi:10.1016/j.talanta.2005.01.028. PMID 18970094.
  15. ^ Wang L, Waltenberger B, Pferschy-Wenzig EM, Blunder M, Liu X, Malainer C, Blazevic T, Schwaiger S, Rollinger JM, Heiss EH, Schuster D, Kopp B, Bauer R, Stuppner H, Dirsch VM, Atanasov AG (2014). "Natural product agonists of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ): a review". Biochem. Pharmacol. 92 (1): 73–89. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2014.07.018. PMC 4212005. PMID 25083916.
  16. ^ Hart A, Dey P (2009). "Echinacea for prevention of the common cold: an illustrative overview of how information from different systematic reviews is summarised on the internet". Preventive Medicine. 49 (2–3): 78–82. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.04.006. PMID 19389422.
  17. ^ Sachin A Shah; Stephen Sander; C Michael White; Mike Rinaldi; Craig I Coleman (July 2007). "Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis". The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 7 (7): 473–480. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(07)70160-3. ISSN 1473-3099. PMID 17597571.
  18. ^ Woelkart K, Linde K, Bauer R (May 2008). "Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold". Planta Medica. 74 (6): 633–7. doi:10.1055/s-2007-993766. PMID 18186015.
  19. ^ Karsch-Völk M, Barrett B, Kiefer D, Bauer R, Ardjomand-Woelkart K, Linde K (2014). "Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (Systematic review). 2 (2): CD000530. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000530.pub3. PMC 4068831. PMID 24554461.
  20. ^ a b "Echinacea". National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 2011-11-09.
  21. ^ Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 149, 321
  22. ^ He, Yu, Matti Kaarlas, "Popularity, Diversity and Quality of Echinacea " , in Sandra Carol Miller, He Yu, Echinacea: The genus Echinacea , CRC Press,2014
  23. ^ S.E. Binns et als, "Taxonomic History and Revision of the Genus Echinacea" , in Sandra Carol Miller, He Yu, Echinacea: The genus Echinacea , CRC Press,2004

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit