Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ozark Coneflower

Weather: Today’s solstice marks end of the early hurricane season that produced Carlos and Bill. The increased heat north of the equator alters the tropical storm patterns off the coast of México. With no atmospheric moisture to form afternoon clouds, we’ve had very high temperatures this week. Last real rain 6/13.

The clearer signifier of the seasonal change is the onset of daylily and hollyhock flowers.

What’s blooming in the area: Dr. Huey and hybrid tea roses, catalpa, silver lace vine, honeysuckle, daylily, datura, red hot poker, Spanish broom, sweet pea, alfalfa, purple salvia, Russian sage, hollyhock, golden spur columbine, pink evening primrose, blue flax, Jupiter’s beard, Queen Anne’s lace, larkspur, Shasta daisy, coreopsis, blanket flower, yellow yarrow, brome grass. Another hay cut done.

Beyond the walls and fences: Apache plume, tamarix, prickly pear, alfilerillo, tumble mustard, bindweed, buffalo gourd, yellow mullein, goat’s head, green-leaf five-eyes, Queen Anne’s lace, goat’s beard, plains paper flower, flea bane, strap leaf aster, common and local dandelions, rice grass.

Cottonwoods dropping cotton.

In my yard: Rugosa roses, potentilla, Saint John’s wort, California poppy, snow-in-summer, Bath pinks, Johnson’s Blue geranium, purple, coral and Husker’s beard tongues, coral bells, Dutch clover, winecup mallow, Maltese cross, veronica, pink and blue salvias, catmints, Rumanian sage, Mexican hat, chocolate flower, anthemis, bachelor button, white yarrow.

Bedding plants: Sweet alyssum, pansy, snapdragon, moss roses, marigold, gazania.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, small birds, geckos, bumble and other bees, hornets, ants.

Weekly update: Spring winds dropped small Russian thistle carcasses that buried themselves in grasses. I don’t see them before I feel them when I’m weeding.

The gusts also moved seeds within my yard.

Three years ago I noticed some unusual leaves in the tiles I placed around the house to keep vegetation away from the building. They didn’t look like a weed, so I left them.

A couple weeks later they took on more character. Their linearity was emphasized by the paler colored mid-rib on leaves that branched from the main stems.

A week later, the unknown visitors produced some buds.

Yellow petals emerged around the brown centers to confirm it was a composite. The petals were narrow and folded.

They took on more color, and opened horizontally.

A few days later, the petals began dropping, and the disc flowers began opening.

It’s come back every year from the same root, so it’s a perennial.

It’s taken me a few years to decide it’s an Ozark coneflower. I had put some potted plants in the nearby slope, but they never survived. The last time I tried was one in 2006.

Then nothing until 2013.

It’s not like Echinacea paradoxa is a southwestern native. It grows in limestone glades in the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri where it develops a deep taproot.

Nor, is it the easiest thing to grow. Susan Mahr says, it needs "cold moist stratification." If seeds aren’t planted in the fall, then it’s necessary to store them in a refrigerator for eight weeks. Then it takes two or three years before they bloom, and another two before they look decent.

While they self-seed, a single plant isn’t likely to reproduce. It all depends on the compatibility of the pollen with the stigma. The pollen with a recessive allele in one location will reproduce, but otherwise nada.

Mine may not be the offspring of the last seedling I set out. It may have come from the two I bought in 2003.

I’ll probably never know if this one can reproduce because goldfinches harvest the seeds. Fortunately, the yellow coneflowers can be long-lived. Many things can happen if given enough time.

Notes: This species is not used for herbal medicines, but it has been crossed with the purple species to create the new orange and rose hybrids.

Carey, Dennis and Tony Avent. "Echinacea Explosion - The Purple Coneflower Chronicles," Plant Delights Nursery website.

Mahr, Susan. "Yellow Coneflower, Echinacea paradoxa," Wisconsin Master Gardener website, 3 July 2009.

Photographs: All taken in my garden. All except #10 are the same plant, #10 is the possible parent.
1. Flower opening this year, 11 June 2015.
2. Flower beginning to droop this year, 13 June 2015.
3. First sign of the new plant, 3 May 2012.
4. Leaves, 14 May 2012.
5. Flower bud, 22 May 2012.
6. Petals just expanding from the central cone, 27 May 2012.
7. Petals fully horizontal, but most still folded, 28 May 2012.
8. Petals fully open and drooping, 2 June 2012.
9. New leaves emerging the next spring, 5 April 2013.
10. Possible parent, 26 August 2006.
11. Seed heads in the snow, 14 December 2012.
12. Desiccating flowers, 5 July 2012.

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