Pale purple coneflower is a native perennial forb growing to a height of 3 feet with coarse bristly hairs on the stout stems and leaves. The leaves are rough-surfaced, up to 10 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide, and tapering at either end, with several parallel veins running along their lengths. The basal leaves are on long stalks, while the stem leaves are few, and usually lack long stalks. There is a single showy flower head at the top of each stem, with many drooping, pale purple petal-like ray flowers, each up to 3 ½ inches long, surrounding a broad, purplish brown, cone-shaped central disk. Pale purple coneflower flowers in late spring to midsummer.
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Localities documented in Tropicos sources
United States (North America)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- Anonymous. 1986. List-Based Rec., Soil Conserv. Serv., U.S.D.A. Database of the U.S.D.A., Beltsville. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1103
- Gleason, H. A. 1968. The Sympetalous Dicotyledoneae. vol. 3. 596 pp. In H. A. Gleason Ill. Fl. N. U.S. (ed. 3). New York Botanical Garden, New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1707
- Radford, A. E., H. E. Ahles & C. R. Bell. 1968. Man. Vasc. Fl. Carolinas i–lxi, 1–1183. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/636
- Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston. 1970. Man. Vasc. Pl. Texas i–xv, 1–1881. The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1493
- Small, J. K. 1933. Man. S.E. Fl. i–xxii, 1–1554. Published by the Author, New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1515
- Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Fl. Great Plains i–vii, 1–1392. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/637
- Fernald, M. 1950. Manual (ed. 8) i–lxiv, 1–1632. American Book Co., New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1327
- Cronquist, A. J. 1980. Asteraceae. 1: i–xv, 1–261. In Vasc. Fl. S.E. U. S. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1714
Global Range: Northeastern Texas to Kansas, east to Iowa, Illinois, through central and western Missouri and Arkansas. Irregular east of the Mississippi River. Established as an exotic in several Eastern states (cf. Fernald, 1950).
Distribution and adaptation
Pale purple coneflower is 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.
For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Comments: Rocky prairies, savannas, open wooded hillsides, glades, barrens, generally over a limestone substrate. Also occurs along roadsides. Partial to full sun.
Prepare a clean weed free seedbed by disking and harrowing or using chemical weed control. Firm the seedbed by cultipacking. Seedbed should be firm enough to allow seed to be planted 1/8 inch deep. The seed of pale purple coneflower should be dormant seeded for best results, because the seed needs cold moist stratification for two months (60 days) in cold, moist environment (35 - 40 degrees Fahrenheit). This is the usual time required to break dormancy; however, a few require only one month or up to three months.
Pale purple coneflower has 80,000 – 85,000 seeds per pound. Seeding rates for seed production should be about 3 - 5 pounds of pure live seed (PLS) per acre in 36-inch rows
(20 - 30 seeds per row foot). For a solid stand, the seeding rate would be 15 - 20 pounds PLS per acre (30 – 40 seeds per square foot).
For a prairie planting, pale purple coneflower would be a small component of a mixture ranging from 0.1 – 1.0 PLS pound per acre (0.2 – 2 PLS per square foot).
Use no fertilizer the establishment year unless soil test indicates a low deficiency of less than 15 PPM of phosphorus and or less than 90 PPM of potassium. Use no nitrogen during the establishment year as this can encourage weed competition.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Pale Purple Coneflower in Illinois
(Bees collect pollen or suck nectar; beetles feed on nectar or pollen; other insects suck nectar; some observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from LaBerge, Clinebell, and MacRae as indicated below)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus sn, Bombus bimaculatus (Cl), Bombus griseocallis (Cl), Bombus pensylvanica sn (Rb, Cl), Bombus separatus sn, Psithyrus variabilis sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Svastra obliqua obliqua (LB); Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada affabilis sn, Nomada superba superba sn; Anthophoridae (Xylocopini): Xylocopa virginica sn; Megachilidae (Coelioxini): Coelioxys octodentata sn; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn (Rb, Cl), Megachile mendica sn, Megachile montivaga sn, Megachile pugnatus sn
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon texanus texanus sn cp, Agapostemon virescens sn (Rb, Cl), Augochlorella aurata sn, Augochlorella striata sn, Halictus ligatus sn cp, Halictus rubicunda (Cl), Lasioglossum sp. (Cl), Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn, Lasioglossum pruinosus sn, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena beameri (Cl), Andrena helianthiformis fq cp olg (Cl); Andrenidae (Panurginae): Heterosarus albitarsis sn cp
Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila nigricans
Tachinidae: Spallanzania hesperidarum
Nymphalidae: Chlosyne nycteis, Danaus plexippus, Euptoieta claudia (Cl), Limenitis archippus, Speyeria cybele (Cl), Speyeria idalia fq (Cl), Vanessa atalanta, Vanessa virginiensis (Rb, Cl); Lycaenidae: Lycaena hyllus, Strymon melinus (Cl); Pieridae: Colias eurytheme (Cl), Colias philodice, Pontia protodice; Papilionidae: Papilio polyxenes asterias (Rb, Cl)
Hesperiidae: Anatrytone logan (Cl), Epargyreus clarus (Cl), Euphyes vestris (Cl), Polites origenes fq (Cl), Polites peckius, Polites themistocles fq (Rb, Cl), Problema byssus (Cl)
Sphingidae: Hemaris thysbe
Buprestidae: Acmaeodera ornata (McR); Cerambycidae: Typocerus sinuatus fp np; Elateridae: Limonius griseus (Cl)
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Comments: Historically abundant, widespread and secure in the central Great Plains; uncommon and probably introduced in the East. Considered native and rare in Tennessee. At present, becoming less common in Kansas. Common in the central and western portions of Missouri, some in Arkansas. Still fairly abundant in Oklahoma.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Echinacea pallida
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Although still fairly abundant in parts of its range in the Great Plains and southern states, Echinacea pallida exhibits a declining trend over the past 30 years. It is threatened by root digging and excessive seed collection, as well as by impacts from road maintenance activities and urbanization in general.
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values). This plant is considered threatened in a couple of states.
Comments: Human actual threat: root digging and excessive seed collection. State conservation laws, such as in Missouri, have had some, though not complete, success as deterrents. In Oklahoma, root digging has been a problem in the northeast corner of the state, and has the potential to expand. Other actual human threats include mowing, application of herbicide, road expansion, construction, urbanization in general.
Pests and potential problems
This species was grown at the Elsberry Plant Materials Center for several years, and during this time there were no apparent pests or potential problems in growing.
Biological Research Needs: Genetic diversity.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
According to the publication entitled ‘Improved Conservation Plants Materials Released by NRCS and Cooperators through September 2001’, there are no cultivars, source identified, selected or tested releases of pale purple coneflower from the Plant Materials Program. The origin for these releases was northern, central and southern counties in the state of Iowa.
Pale purple coneflower is not known to invade where this species does not naturally occur.
Reduce weed competition by mowing over the height of the pale purple coneflower plants or cultivating between the rows. For grassy weed control usage of a post emergence grass herbicide can provide control and will encourage a good stand. Remove dead plant material in the spring for faster green-up by shredding. Burning of dead plant refuge can weaken the plants unless done before it has broken dormancy.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Pale purple coneflower can be used for roadside plantings, prairie restoration, wildlife food and cover, prairie landscaping and native gardens.
Echinacea pallida (Nutt.), commonly called pale purple coneflower, is a species of herbaceous perennial plant in the family Asteraceae. It is sometimes grown in gardens and used for medicinal purposes. Its native range is the south central region of the United States.
E. pallida is similar to E. angustifolia, but plants often grow taller, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 ft (45 to 75 cm) tall, with some growing 3 feet (90 cm) or more tall. Plants normally grow with one unbranched stem in the wild, but often produce multi-stemmed clumps in gardens. They have deep taproots that are spindle shaped, wider in the center and narrowing at the ends. Stems are green in color or mottled with purple and green. The leaves are elongated lanceolate or linear-lanceolate in shape with three veins. Flower head rays are narrow, linear, elongated, and drooping, ranging from 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm) long. The flower heads are from ¾ to 3 inches (2 to 7.6 cm) wide with pale rose-purple or nearly white colored petals. The flowers have white pollen. The fruits are cypselae and are tan or bi-colored with angled edges.
Habitat and range
It is native to the United States where it is found growing in dry soils, in rocky prairies, open wooded hillsides, and glades. It grows natively as far north as Michigan and southward into Alabama and Texas, and has been introduced outside of its native range into Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia. E. pallida blooms from May into July. The states of Tennessee and Wisconsin list the species as threatened, mostly due to habitat loss and over-collection of roots, which are made into herbal medicine. The use of Echinacea as a medicinal plant has not been demonstrated to have any positive health effects.
- Turner RB, Bauer R, Woelkart K, Hulsey TC, Gangemi JD (July 2005). "An evaluation of Echinacea angustifolia in experimental rhinovirus infections". N. Engl. J. Med. 353 (4): 341–8. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa044441. PMID 16049208.
- Schwarz E, Metzler J, Diedrich JP, Freudenstein J, Bode C, Bode JC (2002). "Oral administration of freshly expressed juice of Echinacea purpurea herbs fail to stimulate the nonspecific immune response in healthy young men: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study". J. Immunother. 25 (5): 413–20. doi:10.1097/00002371-200209000-00005. PMID 12218779.
- Barrett BP, Brown RL, Locken K, Maberry R, Bobula JA, D'Alessio D (December 2002). "Treatment of the common cold with unrefined echinacea. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial". Ann. Intern. Med. 137 (12): 939–46. doi:10.1001/archinte.137.7.939. PMID 12484708.
- Yale SH, Liu K (June 2004). "Echinacea purpurea therapy for the treatment of the common cold: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial". Arch. Intern. Med. 164 (11): 1237–41. doi:10.1001/archinte.164.11.1237. PMID 15197051.
- Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida) [NCCAM Herbs at a Glance]
- Log In Problems
- Britton, N., & Brown, A. (1913). An illustrated flora of the Northern United States, Canada from Newfoundland to the parallel of the southern boundary of Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the 102nd meridian. [S.l.]: Scribner. ISBN 0-486-22644-1
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Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Generally accepted (e.g., Kartesz, 1994 and 1999). Described in monograph by R. L. McGregor (1968). A common misconception is that the rays of E. pallida are always pale; rays can be a dark pink hue. This species can be difficult to distinguish from E. simulata, with which it intergrades to the east of its range, and from E. sanguinea to its south (See McKeown, K., 1999).