The pinnate prairie coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) is also known as the yellow coneflower, the prairie coneflower, and the greyhead coneflower. It is in the Aster plant family. They spread by both seeds and rhizomes. Rhizomes spread out from the parent plant root and put out both new roots and shoot which grow up from underground to establish new plants.
It prefers to grow along roadsides, forest edges, railroad tracks, and of course on the prairie. This explains the common name of prairie coneflower.
This is a very hardy plant that is rarely crowded out by other plants. This is explained by the fact that they also spread by rhizomes. They can grow in both dry or wet soils, so they are adaptable to both too much rain and near-drought conditions. This is another survival adaptation that allows these flowers to thrive in diverse environments.
They bloom from mid-summer to late summer into early fall in some areas. It is a perennial herb that can grow up to 4 feet tall on spindly stems. This makes them a popular plant in flower gardens. They are also used in flower arrangements due to their tall stems.
Since I am writing this in mid-July the pinnate prairie coneflower is in full bloom in our area of the Ozarks. You see them everywhere you look it seems as you drive along the highways. Many times they appear in large groups along the roadways, adding some beautiful color to your drive.
I performed a search for any edible or medicinal uses of this plant and can’t find anything about either. It seems this species of coneflower hasn’t been used for food or medicinal purposes. It is simply a joy to look at and appreciate. But when you see a large group of these flowers swaying in the breeze you’d probably be discouraged from harvesting them anyway.
If you want to see more information on other wild edible and medicinal plants that are found in the Ozarks you can read some of our other articles. Links are below: