Purple Coneflower

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 wide.

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 Margaret McKenny
Photos by Barb McGee - bjmcreations.com