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Kevin Doyle

Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida)

Life history

Species overview

Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida), a State Threatened plant, is found in prairies and prairie remnants along roadsides and railroads. Blooming occurs early June through late July; fruiting occurs early July through late August. The optimal identification period for this species is early June through early August.

Synonyms: Brauneria pallida, Echinacea pallida var. pallida, Rudbeckia pallida


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from E. angustifolia by overall size, larger ray flowers and white (not yellow) pollen.
  • Flower characteristics: Single showy flower head at the top of each stem, with many drooping, pale purple, petal-like ray flowers, each up to 3.5 in long; disk purplish-brown, broad, cone-shaped.
  • Fruit characteristics: Cypselae tan or bicolored, 2.5 to 5 mm, faces more or less smooth, usually glabrous.
  • Leaf characteristics: Rough-surfaced, up to 10 in long and 1.5 in wide, tapering at either end, with several paralel veins running along their lengths; basal leaves on long stalks; stem leaves few and usually lack long stalks.


  • Blooming phenology: early June through late July
  • Fruiting phenology: early July through late August
  • Optimum time to identify: early June through early August


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Amorpha canescens, Andropogon gerardii, A. scoparius, Coreopsis palmata, Eryngium yuccifolium, Potentilla arguta, Silphium spp., Ratibida pinnata, Stipa spartea, Phlox pilosa, Asclepias hirtella.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Echinacea pallida in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of March 2012.

Summary Information
State StatusTHR
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in prairies and prairie remnants along roadsides and railroads.
  • Soils: Dry, mesic soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Pale Purple Coneflower. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Mesic Prairie 2
Dry Prairie 3
Dry-mesic Prairie 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Pale Purple Coneflower. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.
  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).


Pale Purple Coneflower  [Photo #12150]

Photo by Thomas Meyer, WDNR.

Pale Purple Coneflower  [Photo #12151]

Pale-purple coneflower (WI Threatened) is limited to native prairie remnants in extreme southern WI . It has been introduced to many locations where it was not native.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, WDNR.

Pale Purple Coneflower  [Photo #12311]

Photo © J. Hale.

Pale Purple Coneflower  [Photo #1309]

Photo © L. Hubarks.

Pale Purple Coneflower  [Photo #1310]

Echinacea pallida. Photo from Endangered Resources files.

Photo by  staff, WDNR.

Pale Purple Coneflower  [Photo #23563]

Photo © David Wisnefske.

Pale Purple Coneflower  [Photo #2659]

Photo © Robert H. Read.

Pale Purple Coneflower  [Photo #2660]

Photo © Robert H. Read.

Pale Purple Coneflower  [Photo #2661]

Frito-Lay Railroad. Prairie, Beloit.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

Pale Purple Coneflower  [Photo #20082]

Echinacea pallida in a remnant dry-mesic prairie in Walworth Co.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, WDNR.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition