The purple coneflower is a beautiful summer/fall bloomer. The colorful bloom attracts bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. In order to get enough sunlight, these unique plants grow to the same height as the grasses growing around them. They can grow as tall as 40 inches. While commonly found in prairie plantings, the purple coneflower may not have historically been found in Wisconsin. Its relative, the pale purple coneflower, a threatened species in Wisconsin, is a native species. As you might guess from its name, it is paler in color. It also has narrower leaves, petals that droop more, and a conical seed head.
The purple coneflower blossoms from mid-summer into the fall. It has a large flower head measuring 1-4 inches. Look for a bristly cone in the center and narrow purple or magenta petals that droop slightly away from it. The stem is hairy and reddish in color with slender, long oval leaves at the base. You'll find them growing in dry prairies and fields. Today, extracts from this plant are used as an herbal remedy to relieve cold and sinus ailments.