Wednesday, February 17, 2010

E for Echinacea


ABC Wednesday is hosted by Mrs. Nesbitt.
Click on the photo above to visit her site... you are welcome to participate,
or visit the participants. This week is "E."


Enter E

E for Echinacea - coneflowers

In doing a little research on-line, I found nine varieties of Echinacea. However, I'm going to spotlight two varieties that are most common here in the central midwest prairies.

The information on these two varieties of Echinacea comes from Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers, a Field Guide - text by Doug Ladd and Photos by Frank Oberle and others, published by Falcon Publishing, Inc., Helena, Montana.

Echinacea pallida
is commonly called the Pale Purple Coneflower.


This photo was taken from Google Images

The plants grow to 3' tall, with coarse, bristly hairs on stout stems and leaves. The basal leaves are rough-surfaced, upt to 10" long and 1 1/2" wide, and tapering at either end, with several parallel veins running along their lengths. The basal leaves grow on long stalks while the stem leaves are few. There is a single showy flower head on each stem, with many drooping, pale purple petal-like ray flowers, each up to 3 1/2" long, surrounding a broad purplish brown, cone-shaped central disk. Bloom time is late spring to midsummer.

These plants are widely distributed in dry and mesic prairies and open savannas from southeastern Nebraska and north-central Iowa south and east to southwestern Arkansas and northwestern Indiana. It is rare further east.


Echinacea purpurea
is commonly called Purple Coneflower
.

(This photo was taken in Mr. Shady's prairie plot last summer.)


Echinacea purpurea plants grow to 5' tall with much-branced stems. Plants in exposed sites hare fewer-branched and shorter. The rough leaves are coarsely toothed, alternate, mostly stalked, up to 8" long and 5" wide, and wider near the base. Flower heads are on individual stalks with each head 2 1/2 - 5" wide and consisting of up to 20 purple petal-like ray flowers surrounding a cone-shaped head of disk flowers. Bloom time is late spring through fall.

These plants are found occasionally in prairies and open woodlands, usually in moister sites than Pale Purple Coneflower; scattered through the tallgrass region west to southeastern Kansas.

This plant is a popular ornamental and many poulations are escapes from cultivation.


The next few photos were also taken in Mr. Shady's prairie plot.



Happy plants!


Getting a little closer...


Wow!


Echinacea purpurea,
Purple Coneflowers in my shady gardens....

Surrounded by deciduous trees, all our plants enjoy wonderfully sunny growth in the Spring. However, once the leaves grow on our oak and hickory trees, some pretty dense shade is created in many areas of our yard!

Consequently, the flowers struggle a bit. They often are very, very pale at their onset.



A bit droopier than their prairie counterparts,
but check out the leaves...

Yep! Echinacea purperea.



Perhaps their growing conditions aren't ideal,
but they continue to be very striking!


Don't you agree?

Shady, yes. But not tooo....

38 comments:

Rosemary said...

Shady I agree these are a fav flower, the blossoms seem to last a long time and even into winter they remain beautiful in the dried state.

Shady Gardener said...

Hi Rosemary - I've been amazed that they do so well in my shady areas. ;-) You're right. The seed heads are beautiful. Esp. right now as they're topped with snow.
Have a great day!

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

I'm a big fan of echinaceas. Unfortunately, so are the rabbits! I have to protect my plants when they first emerge, though a bit of rabbit-pruning does help the plants branch out and saves me a bit of time.

Cameron

sweet bay said...

I love the Echinaceas. My favorite is 'White Swan' together with the wild type, and ornamental grasses. I love your prairie plot. The Echinacea do look very happy there.

Michelle said...

I just love echis. They are tough, dependable and great for wildlife. Great post.

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

They do excellent in Cal, but do take a bit to get going.

Mar said...

I love those and your macro shots are fantastic!!

e is for...

Johnny Nutcase said...

Such pretty photos! I like the bee too :) Good stuff!

Meredith said...

Gorgeous flower! I especially like the closeup of the flower's center; it really is striking. I've wanted to plant them before, but never have because I was worried about drainage issues here. But it is good to see them doing fine, even in the shade. :)

Gail said...

Well they are in my top 10 favorite flowers! I really lovely the species best...and they look wonderful in your garden. I sure hope the TN coneflower grow to be as beautiful....gail

Shady Gardener said...

Cameron, I must not have the rabbits (knock-knock) that you seem to have, but these are also in raised beds. Suppose that makes the difference?

Sweet Bay, Thanks for your visit. I know there are wonderful new hybrid varieties these days. If I had more sunshine in our gardens, I'd plant them. :-)

Hi Michelle, Dirty Girl..., and Mar, Thanks for your visits and comments. I'll need to head your way asap!

Johnny, Thanks to you for visiting today, also. I've just seen your Very Sweet bluebird pics. They aren't due up here for awhile yet.

Meredith, I don't know what your drainage issues are... no drainage? but these plants are pretty hardy. Thanks for your visit today.

Gail, I'm Excitedly waiting to see what those Tennessee Coneflowers do this year! :-) I have a mini-greenhouse with the seeds again this Winter... and sent a few seeds with a local gardening friend last night (she made a mini-greenhouse, too).
Verification word: grati Pretty appropriate, Gail.

Patsi 'Garden Endeavors' said...

Do like coneflowers...very hardy.
This year like to try some different colors. Wait...I'll have to make room :(

Kathleen said...

Can't go wrong with any of them can you?!! Great perennials. I didn't know there were so many varieties even tho I keep seeing new ones show up (like green wizard, etc.) Your photos showcase it very well. :-)

Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

Love these flowers too! They even look great in the fall when the seed pods dry out. The finches around here love them.

LeAnn * ~ See Great Things said...

I use echinasea all the time so it is nice seeing these lovely pictures of it!

Chad and Brandy said...

Purple coneflower.. wonderful plants. They have great color, an element of height and texture, and they are a source of food for wildlife. That prairie looks great.

Shady Gardener said...

Hi Patsy! I identify completely... I want 'em, but where to put 'em! ha.

Kathleen... there must be some crazy hybridizers (a word?) out there! There are new varieties of Everything these days. :-)

Jackie, That's another reason to grow these plants. Food for the birds in the Winter!

LeAnn, Thank you for visiting today. I enjoyed your E post today, too. :-)

Chad and Brandi, Mr Shady's prairie has been a labor of love for a number of years. And it's very beautiful. (It just seems I don't get there often enough, as I'm pretty often busy in our yard!) ;-)

joey said...

Indeed striking and so are your photos, Shady. Love the snow falling on your echinacea, a favorite in my garden also!

Rose said...

My favorite "E" flower, too! I am hoping to find a start of the echinacea pallida one of these days to add to my butterfly garden. I like the idea of having a flower that existed here long before my ancestors arrived.

Shady Gardener said...

Joey, I hadn't thought of the snow falling... ha! Great contrast, huh? :-)

Hi Rose, They're around here and there. I think we may have a plant or two in our prairie, but I didn't have a photo. Hope you can find some!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I love the thin petals of E. pallida. I don't think I've ever seen that one locally!

Noelle said...

I love Purple Coneflowers and grew them at our old home in Phoenix years ago. Isn't it interesting how plants grow differently in the shade? Your photos illustrate this so well.

jay said...

I love the big meadow of them growing wild, and the photo with the bee! Butterflies love them too, don't they?

On behalf of the team, thanks for taking part in ABC Wednesday this week! :)

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

Echinacea was very popular as a cold remedy a few years ago. Its popularity on that front seems to have waned a little.

Shady Gardener said...

Monica, the E. pallida is very striking. You can see it occasionally, here and there.

Hi Noelle, Isn't this why it's hard to identify the various cultivars... given their growing conditions? I have such trouble, sometimes, in keeping plant tags in place (and substituting with permanent ones).

Hi Jay, Thanks for your visit. :-)

Sheila, I still use echinacea drops and, occasionally, teas. :-)

Roger Owen Green said...

Lovely, lovel flowers, and such an exquisite E.

Grace Peterson said...

Hi Shady~~ It seems that every year new cultivars of this beloved wildflower are being introduced. They are indeed great plants. I've noticed that mine are just starting to come back to life. Nice photos.

Ann said...

I take them with garlic and zinc everyday. It is supposed to keep me from catching flus.

Shady Gardener said...

Thank you, Roger.

Hi Grace! I see the new cultivars in catalogs, etc. I'll watch for them at Your Place. :-)

Ann, I've never used it daily, but if it works - great! :-) Thank you for visiting today.

Kate said...

Coneflowers always seem to me to be the workhorses of the garden. I love the way they appear each year and bloom for a long spell. Thye are so pretty. I like the Echinacea pallida and its droopy petals.

Nutty Gnome said...

I've bought Echinacea seeds for the first time this year (- having seen them on so many blogs), so I've been really excited by your glorious blooms!
Can't wait to get mine started now!

VW said...

Coneflowers look so cheery this time of year. I'm glad you find places to grow them that aren't too shady. I'm going to try some Pink Double Delight this year, should be fun.

Tumblewords: said...

Terrific photos and information!

Shady Gardener said...

Kate, I agree completely. It's very dependable!

Won't these flowers look Wonderful at your place, Nutty Gnome?? :-)

Hi VW, I'll watch for your Pink Double Delights! :-)

Tumblewords, Thank you!

Kate said...

Hi, Shady!
You're romancing a fave flower of mine, that's for sure! I'm very cruel to mine, though. I use them as the watering monitor in the rock garden. They're less xeric than the other monsters out there. When they hang their heads I know it's time to give everybody a big drink. :)

Shady Gardener said...

Ah, they can take the "abuse" Kate. I often do the very same thing. ha. However, it's often my ligularia that shows its thirst before anyone else.

sharp green pencil said...

very fat and gorgeous !!!

Shady Gardener said...

Hi Val, I was hoping you'd like him! Not sure he's the best model, however. ;-)