by Barbara Walvoord
First published in Lathrop Lamp Post, June 9-15, 2018
Compare these two coneflowers: the one above, and this one:
Now here’s a story about them.
Suppose you wanted to provide food for pollinators and birds. So you decide to plant some native plants. You research the native wildflowers that are high in value to wildlife and that fit your garden in terms of color, bloom time, and soil/sun preferences. You find that purple coneflower pictured at the top of this article (Echinacea purpurea) provides pollen and nectar many butterflies: American lady, giant swallowtail, great spangled fritillary, painted lady, pearl crescent, red admiral, silvery checkerspot, spicebush swallowtail, eastern tiger swallowtail, variegated fritillary, viceroy, fiery skipper, gulf fritillary, sachem, tawny-edged skipper, and more. Wow! It supports the larvae of the silvery checkerspot butterfly. Its seeds are loved by birds, especially goldfinches.
You go to the nursery, and they show you a variety called Echinacea purpurea ‘Razzmatazz’. It looks different from the “straight” native coneflowers you’ve seen in your research. It has huge double blooms instead of single blooms, and a deep lavender color. Gorgeous!
You buy it and plant it. But one morning you find a little note tacked to the plant: “I came to this coneflower for pollen, but these are double blooms, so I can’t get in. Signed, Burt the Bee.” Later in the fall, you find another note: “I came to this coneflower for seeds, but Continue reading Coneflower: A Butterfly’s View