|Echinacea purpurea 'Maxima'|
Echinacea is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family, Asteraceae. The nine species it contains are commonly called purple coneflowers. They are endemic to eastern and central North America, where they are found growing in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. They have large, showy heads of composite flowers, blooming from early to late summer. The generic name is derived from the Greek word ἐχῖνος (echino), meaning "hedgehog," due to the spiny central disk. Some species are used in herbal medicines and some are cultivated in gardens for their showy flowers. A few species are of conservation concern.
- Echinacea angustifolia – Narrow-leaf Coneflower
- Echinacea atrorubens – Topeka Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea laevigata – Smooth Coneflower, Smooth Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea pallida – Pale Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea paradoxa – Yellow Coneflower, Bush's Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower, Eastern Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea sanguinea – Sanguine purple Coneflower
- Echinacea simulata – Wavyleaf Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea tennesseensis – Tennessee Coneflower
Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service are using DNA analysis to help determine the number of Echinacea species. The DNA analysis allows researchers to reveal clear distinctions among species based on chemical differences in root metabolites. The research concluded that of the 40 genetically diverse populations of Echinacea studied, there were nine distinct species.