Coneflowers have many adaptations that allow them to thrive in the grasslands of Northern and Eastern America. There are many varieties of the coneflower, like grey-headed coneflower, purple coneflower, orange coneflower, and many more.
They are large showy heads of multiple flowers and its generic name Echinacea is Greek for “sea urchin” indicating its central spiny disk resembling a sea urchin.
Coneflowers like most other grassland plants have special adaptations that allow them to survive the harsh conditions and poor soil quality, commonly found in these prairie areas.
They have an extensive and large root system, which can absorb the tiniest amounts of moisture in the dry soil. Its rhyzomous root system can even produce offshoots to keep the plant alive.
Its leaves have tiny hairs and bumps, which is the main entry system of dew and other moistures that nourish the plant.
Its stem is rigid, which protects the plant from excess evaporation, allowing the plant more time for absorption of the minerals and moisture.
Coneflower plant is extremely fire resistant. Although the plant itself gives in to a fire, its seeds need the extreme heat to speed up germination. This means that these seeds are more active after a fire, and in fact thrive on them.
In its inactive state, the plant is not affected much by fires, and usually redevelops from its growing point in the soil, called the caudex.
It protects itself against predators by growing at a height (3-5 feet) higher than most animals that try to feed on it, like rabbits and rats are.
Its prickly seed head does not look very appetizing to grazing animals, so the plant’s very appearance discourages most animals from eating them.
Even when the tree is eaten by herbivores (plant eating animals), its healthy root system immediately returns to normal, and helps the plant to grow quickly.
Despite its high nutrient value, its leaves do not taste very great. This is another adaptation of the plant, as most animals (although some do eat the leaves) prefer better tasting plants.