The coneflower is a title that encompasses roughly four genera – ratibida, rudbeckia, dracopis and echinacea – which contain about 36 different species, and belong to the asteraceae family. The two best known plants among these genera are the echinacea and rudbeckia flower, which are mostly herbaceous perennial plants; the ratibida flower is also perennial, while the dracopis blossom is annual. All four genera have striking similarities. However, there are some minor differences to be noted. For instance, the dracopis and ratibida contain long central receptacles, while the echinacea is much shorter and smaller, and the rudbeckia contains a petite, button-like disk. The coneflower’s distribution ranges from North America, Canada, and Mexico. They are most commonly seen in yellow and purple, but may also appear in shades of white, red or orange.

Although the purple coneflower – or echinacea – is considered one of the most useful in this group of genera, they all have their own particular applications. For example, both the ratibida pinnata and columnifera are said to ease a toothache, reduce a fever, and make for particularly tasty teas; rudbeckia occidentalis has found its way into spirituality, and is frequently used to connect with the “shadow side” of one’s nature; while dracopis is favored as an easy to grow garden and ornamental bloom. In addition to the plethora of known medicinal uses, the echinacea coneflower is also frequently used in witchcraft.
It is believed that carrying this blossom with you will keep your spirit strong during turbulent times; they are sometimes presented as spiritual offerings, and are thought to enhance the power of any spell that is cast.

In general, coneflowers are a symbol of strength and – depending upon the genus – healing. These bright, beautiful blossoms are great to give as gifts as they are versatile, unique and long lasting – surviving nearly two weeks after cutting. In addition to giving these blossoms in the traditional bouquet, they may also be presented in a potted form or given within dried wreaths. If the recipient is an inexperienced but enthusiastic gardener, you might also like to present them with a gift basket filled with all the necessities, plus a packet or two of the seeds – maybe even one from each genus.