Other names: black Samson, red sunflower
Blooming time: May to July
Height: 2-4 ft.
Stems and Leaves: The lower leaves of the
purple coneflower are oval with toothed edges and are
very rough to the touch. The upper leaves are not
toothed. The leaves are 3-8 inches long and 1-3 inches
Flowers and Fruit: The flower head has 12-20
spreading or drooping purple petals. Petals may vary from
purple to crimson, but are rarely pale. Each petal is 1
1/2 -3 inches long. The center cone is more dome-shaped
than cone-shaped and is rough and prickly to the touch.
The entire flower may be 3 -3 1/2inches across.
Interesting facts: Plains Indians had many
uses for the root of the purple coneflower: to treat
snakebites, bee stings, headaches, stomach cramps,
toothaches, enlarged glands such as mumps, sore throats,
and hydrophobia. They also used it for distemper in
horses. The Sioux used the freshly scraped root as a
poultice for snakebites and for the bite of a mad dog.
They also chewed pieces of rootstalk for toothache.
American Indians discovered that the plant was useful as
a burn preventative and enabled the body to endure
extreme heat. Medicine men bathed their hands, arms, or
inside of their mouth in the juice prior to ritual feats,
such as immersing hands in scalding water or holding live
coals in the mouth. Early doctors thought purple
coneflower made the body more resistent to infection.
Modern medicine still uses extracts from this plant for
treating wounds and sore throats.
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Page last updated March 24, 2015
Text resources: Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie- The Upper Midwest,
Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roosa;
A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Northeastern and
North-central North America, Roger Tory Peterson and
Photos by Barb McGee - bjmcreations.com