It's never too early to think ahead to what you might want to plant in the Spring! Did you know that Kingshighway Library has a Seed Library? They receive quite a few donations throughout the year, so you never know what you might find.
One recent highlight is the Purple Coneflower, better known as Echinacea. You may have heard of the plant, or seen it in many gardens. It is a hardy and adaptable flower all over the Eastern United states, can grow around the 3 – 8 hardiness zones, and is part of the Asteraceae family. According to the Missouri Botanical Gardens’ profile of the plant, the Purple Coneflower, scientific name Echinacea purpurea, is a Missouri native wildflower with a long history of medicinal properties. It is an herbaceous perennial, which means it a plant whose growth dies down annually but whose roots or other underground parts survive. It is a purple-ish pink flower, with a large brown center, of little spikes, and it blooms from June to August; it needs full sun and doesn’t require much watering, preferring dry to medium damp soil, making it the perfect summer flower. An interesting fact about the name, Echinacea purpurea, is that the first part, the Greek word echinos, means hedgehog, a reference to the spiky center of the plant. And Purpurea? That just means purple.
This plant can grow up to two to five feet, and has a spread range of up to two feet. It is a highly adaptable plant to any soil type, such as dry clay or shallow and rocky, can resist deer, and attracts both butterflies and bees. According to the Missouri Department of Conservations’ website, the “Native Americans used the roots of coneflowers to make medicines, and modern herbalists continue to use this extract, called “Echinacea” after the genus name, for treating the common cold and other ailments.” The plant also has numerous benefits to its local ecosystem, providing a good nectar source for butterflies and bees and in winter, providing seeds that goldfinches enjoy eating. In addition, its network of root fibers help to bind soils, protecting against erosion.
To learn more about this fascinating plant, the Library’s collection offers:
Walking with Wildflowers: A Field Guide to St. Louis Area by Karen S Haller
Rodale’s 21st Century Herbal: A Practical Guide to Healthy Living Using Nature's Most Powerful Plants by Michael J. Balick, PhD
To learn more about the Seed Library, please visit the Kingshighway Library at 2260 South Vandeventer Avenue or call 314-771-5450