The most widely used medicinal herb of the North American Plains Natives, the fresh root, root juice or an infusion of Echinacea was used to treat everything from toothaches and sore throats to snakebites, rabies and blood poisoning. By stimulating the immune system, Echinacea has been shown in some studies to fight bacterial and viral infections. Although E. pallida, E. angustifolia and E. purpurea are believed to have medicinal properties, only the last two appear prominently in modern remedies. The fleshiest roots are the most potent and take at least three years to develop.
Coneflowers are key components of naturalistic plantings such as meadows and wildflower gardens, but they also look good in traditional flower borders when combined with other sun-loving plants such as tickseed (Coreopsis spp.), sunflower (Helianthus spp.), blazing star (Liatris spp.) and sedums.
Ornamental grasses also make perfect partners because both mature late in the season. Mix coneflowers with Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster', Miscanthus sinensis ‘Kleine Silberspinne' or purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea ‘Transparent').
Photo at top: Enchinacea 'Art's Pride' (Orange Meadowbrite)