It is a startlingly different sort of color, that purple-pink of the purple coneflower blossoming in a damp ditch beside the road or below the ballast of a railroad embankment. The plant is a stately one and is often used in gardens; particularly the purple coneflower is often sold by plant nurseries. This plant is stiff with alternate, rough, tapering leaves on a hairy, rough stem topped with a single large flower. The rays curl somewhat or droop below the rounded, conical center. This at first is purple, but when the orange stamens come out, the color contrast between the purple, the orange, and the purple-pink rays is not always too pleasing to the eye. Out along the railroad tracks or on the broad sweep of sunny prairie, it is part of a landscape which often puts orange butterfly weed and pink phlox together without too obvious clashing.
Brauneria purpurea (L.) Britt.
June - August Prairie roadsides.
Of these two coneflowers, the purple is considered the more beautiful. Pale, coneflower (Brauneria pallida) has paler rays which droop as if they felt the hand of blight or wilt upon them. The round, stiff, bristly cone stands erect; the thin, narrow rays hang low in the bright sunshine. The plant is smaller than the preceding, has long, narrow, rough leaves both basal and alternate on the stem, and, like the other, is a plant which is typical of ditches and roadsides of the wet prairie. Both bloom from late June through July and occasionally well into August.