Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt. - Pale Coneflower

Echinacea pallida plant

Family - Asteraceae

Stems - Typically single from the base, to 1m tall, simple, typically purplish, scabrous because of papillose-hispid hairs, herbaceous, erect, hollow below inflorescence.

Leaves - Mostly basal. Cauline leaves alternate. Basal leaves to +/-30cm long, +/-4cm broad. Blade linear-spatulate, entire, scabrous from papillose-hispid hairs, (the hairs stiff and curled, especially below). Cauline leaves like the basal leaves but reduced, sometimes with very shallow teeth. All leaves with 3 main veins.

Echinacea pallida leavesPressed leaves.

Inflorescence - Single, large flower head terminating stem.

Involucre - Phyllaries imbricate, spreading, to 8mm long, 3mm broad, subulate, glabrous internally, hispid externally, solid green in upper 1/2, green striped in lower 1/2.

Echinacea pallida involucreInvolucre.

Ray flowers - Sterile. Achenes 3-sided, glabrous, 4mm long in flower. Ligules pale pink to rose, to +/-5cm long, +/-7mm broad, 3-notched at apex, glabrous except for a few hairs at the base externally.

Echinacea pallida flowers

Disc flowers - Disk to +/-3cm in diameter. Corollas deep purplish-red, glabrous, 5-lobed, to 5mm long. Lobes acute, -2mm long, erect. Stamens 5, adnate to the base of the corolla tube, included. Filaments compressed, (winged), whitish-yellow, +/-2mm long. Anthers dark brown, 2mm long, convergent around the style. Style bifurcate, exserted, glabrous except at apex, brownish red at apex, pale yellow below, +5mm long. Chaff stiff, glabrous, reddish-purple at apex, folded around the disk florets, +1cm long, with a short bristle tip. Receptacle conic.

Echinacea pallida disk

Flowering - May - July.

Habitat - Drier areas of prairies, glades, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This striking species can be found throughout Missouri except in a few bootheel counties and a few counties in the extreme northeastern corner of the state.
Steyermark lists two forms for the species. The plant shown above is form pallida which has the pinkish-rose ray flowers. Form albida has white ray flowers and is less common.
This genus is used medicinally and some people collect plants from the wild for this purpose. The plant grows fine from seed so there is no need to collect the entire plant, just get some seeds!
Echinacea pallida has recently been divided into two species. Plants which have white pollen are considered E. pallida (Nutt.) Nutt. Plants which have yellow pollen are now considered E. simulata R.L. McGregor

Photographs taken near Stegal Mountain, MO., 6-13-05, and off County Road 2010, Lawrence County, MO., 6-16-05.


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