A perennial herb, it grows to 1-2 feet tall, lasting many years. The plants are easily adapted to short or long growing seasons and have excellent frost hardiness, but will also grow in very hot areas. Echinacea prefers full sun, rich, limey garden soil, and occasional watering. It is known as the American coneflower. It is slightly spiky and has large purple to pink flowers. The center of the flower has a seed head (cone), which is also spiky and dark brown to red in color.
Echinacea is a genus in the aster family. There are nine species of Echinacea. The family is native to the central and south-eastern parts of the United States.
Some species, for example E. angustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida, are widespread. (These three species are most commonly found in herb products). E.purpurea prefers relatively damp sites in semi-shadow such as the edges of forests and embankments, from lowlands to elevations of 1500 metres. While other species, including E. tennesseensis (obviously from Tennessee), the rare Appalachian species E. laevigata, and E. paradoxa, are found in narrowly restricted areas. E. tennesseensis and E. laevigata are on the list of endangered plant species. The yellow-flowered E. paradoxa (the paradox of this “purple coneflower” is that it is yellow) and E. simulata (simulating E. pallida), are both native to the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri. Other unusual species include E. atrorubens, which occurs in eastern Kansas and Oklahoma, and E. sanguinea, which occurs in Louisiana and eastern Texas, with one population in southwestern Arkansas.