There are five species of perennials in the genus
which share similar characteristics. Most species are native to the prairies of central Canada and the Midwestern United States of America. They all have the cone-shaped flower heads with ray florets in various colours. They are attractive plants to grow in your garden with their erect, coarse stems and a good contrast to floppy less structured plants. As well as a valuable cut flower they can be used in fresh or dry arrangements. Many gardeners leave the flowers on over winter for birds and they look good in frost conditions. The dried root is known for being used in modern herbal medicine, skin products and shampoos. The genus is derived from the Greek word echinos ‘hedgehog’ referring to the plants’ prickly cone flowers. Echinacea perfom best in fertile soil that is well drained. Despite this they are tolerant of poor soils and can be drought tolerant once established.