Well, it was such a beautiful, sunny morning yesterday, I decided to snap some pictures of my recently blooming Purple Coneflowers. But as I soon discovered, it turned out to be primarily a Carpenter Bee photo-shoot, as these bees simply love gathering pollen from these lovely plants.
Personally I am not afraid of bees. My theory is that they mind their own business, and I mind mine. Don't harm them and you'll be OK.
I also know for a fact that Carpenter Bees are even more docile than any of their cousins. So there I was in camera macro mode - inches away - snapping a bunch of pictures. Here are the results:
About the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)
The purple coneflower is a native plant to America and southern parts of Canada, meaning this is the only place on earth where it grows in the wild. It is cultivated however in many other places worldwide.
Its name "cone flower" comes from the way the flowers literally look - having a medium to large cone at the center of the flower. This cone typically has between 200-300 tiny spiny-looking florets. Wikipedia says these plants can grow to 55 inches (140cm), but I have some growing right now in my yard at 60 inches (I will take a picture for a future post).
Closeup of a freshly blooming Coneflower
In the daisy family of plants, Echinacea has become a favorite of many North American gardeners in recent decades for its beautiful colorful flowers, lengthy bloom period, easy maintenance and its ability to return year-after-year (perennial). They will reseed come Fall, and new growth will ensue the following Spring.
Virtually all parts of the echinacea plant have been used for centuries (starting with Native American Indians) as herbal medicine. In mainstream culture, Echinacea's popularity & use increased dramatically from around the mid 1800's to early 1900's, and its medicinal potential has sparked a rebirth of interest in recent times.
While many of its true benefits are still being discovered today, there is enough scientific data to indicate that Echinacea can strengthen the immune system while helping prevent or reduce the duration of a cold. It may also help ward off infections, relieve pain, repair minor skin wounds, and work as an effective laxative.