Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Smooth Purple Coneflower - Echinacea laevigata   (Boynton & Beadle) S.F. Blake
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Echinacea with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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Author(Boynton & Beadle) S.F. Blake
DistributionCentral and eastern Piedmont only. The large gap between north and south is certainly real, as botanists have heavily searched for this rare-listed plant.

Piedmont and Mountains, west-central VA to northeastern GA; disjunct to PA. Records from outside this area are suspect and could be escapes from cultivation.
AbundanceRare and declining, but a few populations are large. This is a Federal and State Threatened species, down-listed from Endangered status a year or two ago.
HabitatDry mafic soils of barrens, glades, and open woodlands. Populations need canopy reduction in order to be viable, especially by fire.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting late May-July, flowering mainly from late May to mid-June. All our purple coneflowers have been cultivated for medicinal purposes.
IdentificationPlants grow 1.5-3 feet tall, are glabrous, and somewhat glaucescent. Leaves are lance-ovate to elliptic, 4-6 inches long and toothed on the margins. The terminal heads have long, drooping, dark pink rays and a dull brownish yellow disk that becomes dome-shaped in age. The smooth upper surface of the leaves separates it from E. purpurea and E. pallida. Needless to say, when populations of this species are in full bloom, the sight is highly memorable.
Taxonomic CommentsSome authors have treated it as a variety of Eastern Purple Coneflower (E. purpurea), though nearly all now consider it as a valid species.

Other Common Name(s)Smooth Coneflower. This name, often used, is to be avoided, as members of the genus Rudbeckia are generally named as "xxxxx Coneflower". Echinacea species should be referred to as "xxxx Purple Coneflower".
State RankS1S2
Global RankG2G3
State StatusT
US StatusLT
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B.A. SorriePicture Creek Diabase Barrens, under powerline. GranvillePhoto_natural
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