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Pinnate Prairie Coneflower

Common Name: Pinnate Prairie Coneflower (also known as "Yellow Coneflower" or "Grey-headed Coneflower").

Scientific Name: Ratibida Pinnata.

What to look for?  Yellow! Tall! The Pinnate Prairie Coneflower bears flower heads with a dozen or so drooping, yellow petals or ray flowers (daisy-like). These yellow petals are approximately 2 inches in length. These ray flowers surround a round, gray central disk – approximately ½ inch tall - that will darken to brown as florets drop off. The Pinnate Prairie Coneflower has a three to five foot tall green stem. The leave arrangement is alternating (one leaf per node along the stem) and basal (leaves are growing only at the base of the plant). The green leaves are pinnately divided into multiple lobes - three to seven lobes (i.e., very leafy), giving it a somewhat bushy appearance at its base. The root system is rhizomatous, often forming tight clumps of plants.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? You can find the Pinnate Prairie Coneflower around the upper banks of Carillon Stonegate Pond and the fields adjacent to the woodlands.

How big are they? The Pinnate Prairie Coneflower is approximately three to five feet tall. Its leaves are approximately 2" long, And the yellow flowers are approximately 1-2" long.

Where do they grow and thrive? The Pinnate Prairie Coneflower occurs across most of the United States from the Great Plains east and portions of southern Canada. In Illinois, this plant is found across the state except for a few southern counties. The Pinnate Prairie Coneflower’s habitat includes prairies, thickets, woodland borders, and areas along railroads, particularly where remnant prairies occur.

When do they bloom? The blooming period occurs from late July into September.

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The Pinnate Prairie Coneflower attracts a variety of bees. Other insect visitors include wasps, flies, small butterflies, and beetles. You will see American Goldfinches eating the seeds during the fall at Carillon Stonegate Pond. And nectar from the flower provides food for butterflies.

Interesting Facts About the Pinnate Prairie Coneflower:

  • The Pinnate Prairie Coneflower develops a flower head that consists of 200 to 300 florets arranged in the form of spiny, gray cone in the center.

  • There is little or no floral scent.

  • The Pinnate Prairie Coneflower was used to cure a toothache – juice extracted from its roots.

For more information on the Pinnate Prairie Coneflower and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, University of Texas Wildflower Center and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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