Purple coneflower

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More names for this plant

The Dakota and Anishinaabe were among the earliest people to name Minnesota’s plants and animals, as well as to understand them in relation to Minnesota’s climate and seasons. Those original names are still in use, and several are included on the Season Watch website. However, complete translations were not available.

Latin (or scientific name): Echinacea purpurea

The scientific community has a convention of assigning agreed-upon Latin names to every kind of organism. Using scientific names helps people communicate confidently about the same organism and organize lifeforms based on how closely related they are.

More common names: Echinacea

Page contents

Purple coneflower in a grassland setting. The flower has a large, orange center that points directly to the sky. Several long petals drape down. The petals are oval-shaped and pinkish-purple in color.
Purple coneflower in a grassland setting.
August 9, 2019, Stearns County, Minnesota
Photo © Chantel, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)
iNaturalist observation

About the purple coneflower

  • Purple coneflowers are perennial herbaceous plants that have pink to purple flowers with orange centers.
  • They attract many pollinators when they flower in mid-summer to early fall. 
  • The flowers produce spiny seeds that are a fall food source for birds. 
  • These plants grow in the western half of Minnesota. 
  • The purple coneflower, or echinacea, is a part of traditional Native American medicine. It also appears in commercially available herbal supplements for colds and flu. 

Visual guide to phenology

Watch for the appearance of leaves, flowers, and fruits. Take notice of when flowers open and fruits ripen.

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Note to observers

This page explains general clues to watch for when observing purple coneflower phenology. However, this page does not explain how to identify this plant or collect data in a standardized way.

Against a snowy backdrop, seed heads remain from last year's purple coneflowers. They are spiky textured, dark in color, and sit at the top of stiff stems.
Seed heads of the purple coneflower have a bristly star-shaped base and a cone-shaped top.
New green leaves of the purple coneflower plant contrast against the dull brown leaf litter on the ground.
Flower buds of the purple coneflower plant are green with many layers of triangular structures arranged in circles.
A grassland scene with purple coneflowers in bloom. About fifty individual flowers receded into the distance in this lush scene.
A spent flower head of the purple coneflower. A brown, bristly, dome-shaped structure conceals ripe fruits. About 10 petals hang down and point away from the seed head. They are shriveled and brown.

Graphs and historical data

Note: The Orientation Center provides a map, as well as information on reading graphs; interpreting summary statistics, who collected the data and how; and how to download datasets for independent exploration.

Hennepin County


  • Earliest: July 8 (occurred in 1962 and 1965)
  • Average: July 21
  • Latest: August 1 (occurred in 1961)
Scatterplot showing purple coneflower phenology in Hennepin County, Minnesota

Download this dataset (.csv file)

Last flower

  • Earliest: September 1 (occurred in 1964)
  • Average: October 1
  • Latest: October 22 (occurred in 1980 and 1984)
Scatterplot showing purple coneflower phenology in Hennepin County, Minnesota

Download this dataset (.csv file)