Thursday, June 25, 2009

Echinacea paradoxa

While conducting vegetation sampling at Hercules Glades Wilderness in southwestern Missouri (roughly 25 miles from the Arkansas line) I came across a paradox. Well, actually Echinacea paradoxa. I assume it is called this because it has yellow ray flowers where those of most Echinacea are purple.

This taxon is essentially an Ozark endemic. Technically, there is a purple colored variety in Oklahoma and Texas that is often treated as a distinct species. The best floral display of Echinacea paradoxa occurs at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camden County where stretches of glade are littered with thousands of stems. At Hercules Glades Echinacea paradoxa, like E. pallida, is limited to small openings between juniper trees within the larger glade context. Over the past two weeks I have covered several hundred acres of glades and I have seen only this small population.

They persist here only because they have been overlooked by the greedy, greasy (yeah I said greasy) hands of root diggers. Historically, both species were common and dominant members of the glades in the region. Hey, just what we need, another example of human exploitation of the natural world. Echinacea paradoxa is listed as Globally Imperiled.


J'ellen said...

Wow, how interesting! The purple coneflower, or echinacea, are just starting to bloom here in SD. No such paradoxa that I know of here!

Tom said...

Very nice Justin. Certainly a new species for me. Thanks for sharing.

Scott said...

I hate those greasy-handed root diggers!

Nice photos. That glade looks sweet.