Pale Purple Coneflower (Pallida)

The Pale Purple Coneflower (Pallida) is generally described as a perennial forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The Pale Purple Coneflower (Pallida) has green foliage and inconspicuous white flowers, with a moderate amount of conspicuous black fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the early summer, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Pale Purple Coneflower (Pallida) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Pale Purple Coneflower (Pallida) will reach up to 1.2 foot high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 1 foot.

The Pale Purple Coneflower (Pallida) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -33°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Pale purple coneflower can be used for roadside plantings, prairie restoration, wildlife food and cover, prairie landscaping and native gardens.

General Characteristics

Pale purple coneflower is a native perennial forb growing to a height of 3 feet with coarse bristly hairs on the stout stems and leaves. The leaves are rough-surfaced, up to 10 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide, and tapering at either end, with several parallel veins running along their lengths. The basal leaves are on long stalks, while the stem leaves are few, and usually lack long stalks. There is a single showy flower head at the top of each stem, with many drooping, pale purple petal-like ray flowers, each up to 3 ½ inches long, surrounding a broad, purplish brown, cone-shaped central disk. Pale purple coneflower flowers in late spring to midsummer.

Required Growing Conditions

Pale purple coneflower is widely distributed in dry and mesic prairies and open savannas from southeastern Nebraska and north central Iowa south and east to southwestern Arkansas and northwestern Indiana.

For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Cultivation and Care

Prepare a clean weed free seedbed by disking and harrowing or using chemical weed control. Firm the seedbed by cultipacking. Seedbed should be firm enough to allow seed to be planted 1/8 inch deep. The seed of pale purple coneflower should be dormant seeded for best results, because the seed needs cold moist stratification for two months (60 days) in cold, moist environment (35 - 40 degrees Fahrenheit). This is the usual time required to break dormancy; however, a few require only one month or up to three months.Pale purple coneflower has 80,000 – 85,000 seeds per pound. Seeding rates for seed production should be about 3 - 5 pounds of pure live seed (PLS) per acre in 36-inch rows (20 - 30 seeds per row foot). For a solid stand, the seeding rate would be 15 - 20 pounds PLS per acre (30 – 40 seeds per square foot).For a prairie planting, pale purple coneflower would be a small component of a mixture ranging from 0.1 – 1.0 PLS pound per acre (0.2 – 2 PLS per square foot). Use no fertilizer the establishment year unless soil test indicates a low deficiency of less than 15 PPM of phosphorus and or less than 90 PPM of potassium. Use no nitrogen during the establishment year as this can encourage weed competition.


This plant is considered threatened in a couple of states.

General Upkeep and Control

Reduce weed competition by mowing over the height of the pale purple coneflower plants or cultivating between the rows. For grassy weed control usage of a post emergence grass herbicide can provide control and will encourage a good stand. Remove dead plant material in the spring for faster green-up by shredding. Burning of dead plant refuge can weaken the plants unless done before it has broken dormancy.

Pests and Potential Problems This species was grown at the Elsberry Plant Materials Center for several years, and during this time there were no apparent pests or potential problems in growing.

Environmental Concerns Pale purple coneflower is not known to invade where this species does not naturally occur.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) According to the publication entitled ‘Improved Conservation Plants Materials Released by NRCS and Cooperators through September 2001’, there are no cultivars, source identified, selected or tested releases of pale purple coneflower from the Plant Materials Program. The origin for these releases was northern, central and southern counties in the state of Iowa.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Forb/herb
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Early Summer
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Single Stem
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 1.2
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -33
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 6.5–7.2 pH
Precipitation Range 14–14 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Minimum Frost-Free Days 90 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance Low
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant Yes
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA