Asteraceae / Composite
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Lore: There are accounts of Native American shamens using the juice of an Echinacea before exposing themselves to hot coals or boiling water.
Medical Uses: Most famous recently for it's proven ability to stimulate the immune system, this plant has been widely used to help prevent infectious diseases. Many people clam to have avoided the flu with extracts of a Echinacea. It has been touted for reducing inflammation but this has not been proven. It has been shown to have value as and external antiseptic. It has been used like so many other plants as a snake bite treatment, but, also is known for treating other bites and stings. According to Field Guide to Medicinal Plants, Eastern and Central North America E. angustifolia is "A folk remedy for brown recluse spider bites". The smoke of the leaves is a used as a headache remedy.
Similar Species: Purple
(1) Narrow-leaved Purple Coneflower (E. angustifolia) Is found mainly in the western US.
(2) Purple Coneflower (E. purpurea) which has slightly toothed, ovate leaves and grows in moist woods as opposed to glades and open areas. Often found in cultivated in flower gardens.
(3) Tennessee Coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis).
(4) Pale Purple Coneflower (E. pallida) which has light pink reflexed (drooping) petals that fade over time and white pollen. blooms in early to mid summer.
Not shown - Wavyleaf Purple Coneflower, Echinacea simulata is rare. Similar to E. pallida it has darker rays and yellow pollen
Some species of Coneflower may cross making identification tricky.
One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.
This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.
Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves