There are nine species of Echinacea. Some species have been used for medicinal purposes. Native Americans use the roots as a traditional healing herb. Today the roots are used for herbal medicines. Two species are considered by the US Fish and Wildlife as endangered. They are E. Tennesseensis and E. Laevigata.
The name “cone flower” is rooted from the Greek echinos which means “sea urchin”. Some Native Americans call them “elk root” because they observed that elk would seek out and eat the roots when hurt or unwell. We call them “cone flowers” because their petals are reflexed.
At the Venango Conservation District offices, we planted purple cone flowers because they are a native plant. Our purpose was to provide wildlife food for our garden visitors. Butterflies and bees consume the nectar of our cone flowers, and in the winter, goldfinches eat up the seeds. Cone flowers also have network of root fibers so they can bind soil which protects against erosion.