Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Plant of the Week: Wavy-leaf Coneflower (Echinacea simulata)

The genus Echinacea, a uniquely North American group of nine species, is named for the center like spiny sea urchin or hedge hog like central disk (Greek = echino).  There are three species native to Kentucky, wavy-leaf, pale purple (E. pallida), and purple (E. purpurea).  Wavy-leaf is probably the most common species and the name simulata arises from the similarity to pale purple coneflower.  Some authors consider these to be one species and two distinct varieties. The two species look pretty much identical and the best way to differentiate the species is by pollen color.  E. simulata has yellow pollen and E. pallida has white pollen. They can be found growing together in our limestone glades and barrens across the state. These two to three foot tall members of the aster family have narrow, parallel veined, toothless leaves and hairy stems. The large daisy like flowers typically begin flowering in late-May, peak in mid-June, and remain in bloom all summer and may re-bloom in some cases.  Unlike purple coneflower, these species have a taproot, not a fibrous root system, and consequently are very drought tolerant, and even tolerate clay soils.  They grow best in full sun but will still bloom profusely in part shade.  They make excellent cut or dried flowers and they are a butterfly and bee magnet.  The dried seeds also attract American goldfinches.  If you leave some seeds in the head, they will self-seed and over time a nice drift, which is quite showy, will develop.  Because of the hairy nature of the plant, deer do not usually browse it much at all.  It is for the most part disease and insect free which makes it a very low maintenance plant.  Excellent companion plants include orange coneflowers, butterfly milkweed, ozark coneflower (the yellow to orange flowering species), and blazingstars.

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