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What's pretty, purple and named after the hedgehog? Why the pale purple coneflower - a striking native wildflower known for its big, unique blooms. Its scientific name, Echinacea pallida, comes from the Greek word for hedgehog, apparently for the spiky bristles found at the flower’s center.
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Pale purple coneflowers are frequently found in North America’s prairies and open savannas. They are quite tall, growing as high at three feet with coarse, stubbly hairs on its stout stems and narrow leaves. Their height is a necessity; in order to get enough sunlight; the coneflower must grow as tall as the grasses surrounding them.
Pale purple coneflowers bloom from mid-summer into the fall. Look for its large flower head with a bristly cone-shaped center showcasing pale purple or light magenta petals that slightly droop down. The colorful bloom attracts bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. Home gardeners are also fans, making this native wildflower a backyard garden favorite.
Kankakee Sands in Newton County and Hoosier Prairie in Lake County are great places to find pale purple coneflowers in northwest Indiana. The most spectacular display, however, is found south at Teeple Glade in Harrison County where coneflowers cover the forest floor.
If Echinacea seems familiar, you have recognized it from boxes in beauty/health aisles in your local groceries/super stores. Extracts from the root, leaves, and flower of the coneflower are thought to reduce the symptoms of cold and flu. Echinacea was also once used for snakebite, anthrax and for pain relief.