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Featured plant: Echinacea Coneflower

By Anne Hunter | January 21, 2015

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 500 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

Commonly known as coneflowers, the genus Echinacea comprises nine species of herbaceous perennial plants in the Asteraceae family that are native to the prairies and open woodlands of the eastern and central regions of North America. They attract butterflies, provide seed for birds, and make great cut flowers. In addition, Echinacea has been used medicinally to boost the immune system and treat cold and flu symptoms.

A bee dines on one of the High Line’s Echinacea purpurea blooms.Steven Severinghaus

Echinacea prefers growing in full sun to light shade in moist, well-draining soil. Once established, Echinacea can survive periodic drought conditions due to roots that store water. The plants typically grow two to four feet tall, with erect stems supporting large, bright blooms that provide a long-lasting display of color throughout the summer. Seemingly endless cultivars of Echinacea are available in the trade, offering a myriad of colors and flower forms. They are certainly a cheerful element to complement almost every sunny garden.

Eleven different species and cultivars of Echinacea can be found throughout the High Line, including Echinacea tennesseensis, which was recently removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants! Echinacea’s sturdy stems and characteristic cone-shaped seed heads provide a stark contrast to the lighter tones and more delicate textures of the dormant grasses that dominate the winter landscape of the High Line.

Clusters of Echinacea can be found throughout the High Line from the Gansevoort Woodland, at Gansevoort Street, to West 34th Street.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line’s most important gardening projects.

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TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.