Coneflower, Upright

CHARACTERISTICS
Botanical Name Ratibida columnifera
Life Cycle Perennial
Environment Full Sun
Preferred Sites Upland/Grassland
Bloom Period May-August
Flower Color Yellow, Red
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Description

Alternate names for Upright Coneflower include: Mexican Hat, Yellow Mexican Hat, Upright Prairie Coneflower, Long-head Coneflower, and Columnar Prairie Coneflower. Upright Coneflower is suggested for use in roadside plantings, parks, recreational areas and prairie restoration projects where annual precipitation is from ten to thirty inches. This species is sometimes grown as an ornamental. Please consult the Plants Website and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

DESCRIPTION: Prairie coneflower is a native perennial about a foot and a half tall. The rays are generally three to five centimeters long, much longer than the disk (solid part between the rays). The floral disk is somewhat globe-shaped, ovoid, or shortly ellipsoid, twelve to twenty millimeters high (Steyermark 1963). Prairie Coneflower has well-developed leaves up to fifteen centimeters long and six centimeters wide, pinnatifid to partly bipinnatifid, with ultimate segments linear to oblong, often very unequal (Great Plains Flora Association 1986). This species has one to several slender, hairy stems that branch from the base with height twelve to forty-seven inches. The fruit is a small ashen.

DISTRIBUTION: Upright Coneflower ranges from Alberta to Mexico, East to Manitoba, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas; and New England (Steyermark 1963).

RANGE & HABITAT: Upright Coneflower grows well on loam, sandy loam, and clayey loam soils. It prefers a sunny position and well-drained rich soil types. This species is tolerant of weakly acidic to moderately alkaline soils and weak saline soils. It has low to moderate water requirements. Prairie Coneflower is found on dry plains, prairies, waste ground, and along roadsides and railroads.

CULTIVATION: The seeds are best sown in early spring in a cold frame. Cover the seeds and place the pot in a sunny location.

USES: Tea was made from the leaves and flower heads. Cheyenne Indians boiled Upright Coneflower leaves and stems to make a solution applied externally to draw the poison out of rattlesnake bites. An infusion was used to relieve the pain of headaches and to treat stomachaches and fevers (Moerman 1998). A decoction was used as a wash to relieve pain and to treat poison ivy rash.

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