More Than Just Michaelmas Daisies

We all know that Michaelmas Daisies are asters or rather members of the aster family of plants (Asteraceae). Purple coneflowers and Black Eyed Susans are also members of this family and it is these three flowers that are described below in an article by Linda Crampton which I found on the Dengarden website.

The Aster family of plants is very large and contains some beautiful flowers. Three of my favourite members of the family are the purple coneflower, the black-eyed Susan and the Michaelmas daisy. They each produce a glorious splash of colour when they bloom. They are not only attractive plants but are also associated with some interesting facts.
The family Asteraceae (formerly Compositae) is commonly known as the aster, daisy or sunflower family. The name Compositae is appropriate because of the composite flower structure. What looks like one flower is actually an inflorescence made of many smaller flowers, or florets. The inflorescence is often known as a capitulum or a head. The flowers in the central disk of the capitulum are appropriately called disk florets. Each “petal” surrounding the disk is a ray floret.
A butterfly on a coneflower in a botanical garden
A butterfly on a coneflower in a botanical garden | Source

The Purple Coneflower

The ray flowers of the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) are white, pale pink or purple-pink in colour. The central disk is raised and domed. It looks like a spiny, dark orange or red cone. These features give the plant both its common and its scientific name. The name Echinacea comes from the Greek word echinus, which means hedgehog.
The purple coneflower is a perennial plant that is pollinated by insects. The flower is said to be a magnet for bees and butterflies, which I can believe, as least as far as bees are concerned. I often see a visiting bee on a flower. The ray florets of the flower are sterile, as they are in many members of the Aster family. The function of these florets is to attract insects. The disk florets contain stamens, which are the male reproductive structures, and a pistil, which is the female structure.
The fruits of purple coneflowers are known as achenes. An achene is a small, dry fruit that contains only one seed and doesn’t open at maturity. Sunflower seeds are probably the most familiar example of achenes for many people. The “seeds” are really fruits that contain the seeds. The leaves of coneflowers are generally long, narrow and lance-shaped. They are usually toothed.
A bee on a purple coneflower
A bee on a purple coneflower | Source
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