Smooth Coneflower (Echinacea laevigata)
Family: Aster (Asteraceae)
Federal Status: Endangered, listed October 8, 1992
Best Search Time: late May through October
Description: Smooth coneflower is a perennial herb in the Aster family (Asteraceae) that grows up to 3.3 feet (ft) (1 meter; m) tall from a vertical root stock. The large elliptical to broadly lanceolate basal leaves may reach 8 inches (in) (20 centimeters; cm) in length and 3.0 in (7.5 cm) in width and taper into long petioles toward the base. They are smooth to slightly rough in texture. The stems are smooth, with few leaves. The mid-stem leaves are smaller than the basal leaves and have shorter petioles. Flower heads are usually solitary. The rays of the flowers (petal-like structures) are light pink to purplish in color, usually drooping, and 2 – 3.2 in (5 - 8 cm) long. Flowering occurs from late May through mid July and fruits develop from late June to September. The fruiting structures often persist through the fall. Reproduction is accomplished both sexually (by seed) and asexually (by rhizome).
Habitat: Smooth coneflower is typically found in open woods, glades, cedar barrens, roadsides, clearcuts, dry limestone bluffs, and power line rights-of-way, usually on magnesium and calcium rich soils associated with amphibolite, dolomite or limestone (in Virginia), gabbro (in North Carolina and Virginia), diabase (in North Carolina and South Carolina), and marble (in South Carolina and Georgia). Smooth coneflower occurs in plant communities that have been described as xeric hardpan forests, diabase glades or dolomite woodlands. Optimal sites are characterized by abundant sunlight and little competition in the herbaceous layer. Natural fires, as well as large herbivores, historically influenced the vegetation in this species' range. Many of the herbs associated with Smooth coneflower are also sun-loving species that depend on periodic disturbances to reduce the shade and competition of woody plants.
Distribution: Although Smooth coneflower currently occurs in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia; historically, it was also known from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Alabama, and Arkansas. Many populations are currently protected by a variety of federal, state and private conservation entities. Several populations occur on the Chattahoochee National Forest, the George Washington National Forest, the Sumter National Forest, Fort Jackson and the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site. Other public lands with Smooth coneflower include those managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the South Carolina Department of Wildlife and Marine Resources Department (Heritage Trust), the Virginia Natural Heritage Program and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. The Nature Conservancy owns three of the sites in Virginia.
Threats: Smooth coneflower is threatened by fire suppression and habitat destruction resulting from highway construction, residential and commercial development as well as maintenance activities in roadside and utility rights of way. Collection from the wild for horticultural and medicinal uses could also threaten Smooth coneflower.
References:Buchanan, M.F. and J.T. Finnegan. 2010. Natural Heritage Program List of the Rare Plant Species of North Carolina. NC Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh, NC.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1995. Smooth Coneflower Recovery Plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Atlanta, GA. 31 pp.
- Alley, H. 2002. Saving the Smooth Coneflower. State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens, GA. Garden News 18(4).
- Alley, H. and J. Affolter. 2004. Experimental Comparison of Reintroduction Methods for the Endangered Echinacea laevigata (Boyton and Beadle) Blake. Natural Areas Journal 24 (4):345-350.
- Alley, H., M. Rieger and J.M. Affolter. 2005. Effects of Developmental light levels on photosynthesis and biomass production in Echinacea laevigata, a federally listed endangered species. Natural Areas Journal 25 (2).
- Apsit, V.J., & P. M. Dixon. 2001. Genetic Diversity and Population Structure in Echinacea laevigata (Boyton and Beadle) Blake, an Endangered Plant Species. Natural Areas Journal 21: 71-77.
- Arnold, J.E., L.G. Edwards, T.P. Spira, T.P. and J.L. Walker. 1998. Efforts to Save an Endangered Species - Echinacea laevigata (Smooth Coneflower). Clemson University. http://virtual.clemson.edu/groups/hort/sctop/pdf_docs/BSec/BSec-13.pdf. Accessed: 2002.
- Barden, L. 1997. Historic Prairies in the Piedmont of North and South Carolina, USA. Natural Areas Journal 17(2):149-152.
- Barnett-Lawrence, M. 1994. Smooth Coneflower, Echinacea laevigata (Boynton & Beadle) Blake, experimental management and monitoring for 1993. Raleigh, NC: Report to the North Carolina Plant Conservation Program. 65 pp.
- Barnett-Lawrence, M. 1995. Smooth Coneflower, Echinacea laevigata (Boynton & Beadle) Blake, experimental management and monitoring for 1994 and 1995. Raleigh, NC: Report to the North Carolina Plant Conservation Program. 28 pp. + appendices.
- Benjamin, S., E. Drozda, A. Goode, R. Martin. 1991. An evaluation of management alternatives for the Smooth Coneflowers sites at Falls Lake Reservoir. Duke University, Durham, NC: Project Completed for FES 316-Case Studies in Environmental Management, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. 21 pp.
- Blake, S.F. 1929. New Asteraceae from the United States, Mexico, and Honduras. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 19(13).
- Boynton, C.L. and Beadle. 1903. In Small, J.K. 1903. Flora of the southeastern United States, being descriptions of the seed-plants, ferns and fern-allies growing naturally in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and in Oklahoma and Texas east of the one hundredth meridian. Published by the author, New York, NY.
- Buchanan, M.F. and J.T. Finnegan. 2008. Natural Heritage Program List of the Rare Plant Species of North Carolina. NC Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh, NC.
- Cronquist, A. 1945. Notes on the Compositae of the Northeastern United States. II. Heliantheae and Helenieae. Rhodora December, 1945.
- Cronquist, A. 1980. Vascular flora of the southeastern United States. Vol. 1. Asteraceae. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 261 pp.
- Davis, J.E., C. McRae, B.L. Estep, L.S. Barden and J.F. Matthews. 2002. Vascular Flora of Piedmont Prairies: Evidence from Several Prairie Remnants. Castanea 67(1):1-12.
- Dunscomb, J.K. and K.M. Korth. 1997. Results of monitoring for the smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata). Report from The Nature Conservancy, Charlottesville, VA to the VA Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA.
- Edwards, L.G., T.P. Spira and J.L. Walker. 1995. Seed production and germination ecology of Echinacea laevigata, smooth coneflower: a federally endangered species. Poster presentation at Association of Southeastern Biologists Meeting, Knoxville, TN.
- Emanuel, C.M. 1996. Silvicultural options for recovering the endangered smooth coneflower, Echinacea laevigata (Boynton and Beadle) Blake. Masters Thesis. Clemson University.
- Emanuel, C.M., T.A. Waldrop, J.L. Walker, and D.H. Van Lear. 1995. Silvicultural options for recovering the endangered smooth coneflower: preliminary results. pp. 32-35 in: Edwards, M. Boyd, ed. Proceedings of the eighth biennial southern silvicultural research conference. 1994 November 1-2; Auburn, AL: Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-1; Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station.
- Evans, R.E., M. Pyne, and S. Hiltner. 2002. Remnant Diabase Vegetation in the North-Central North Carolina Piedmont. Presented by NatureServe for the 3rd Eastern Native Grass Symposium, Chapel Hill, NC.
- Gadd, L.E. 2006. Pollination biology of the federally endangered Echinacea laevigata (Boynton and Beadle) Blake, smooth coneflower, in small isolated populations. Dissertation, North Carolina State University.
- Gaddy, L.L. 1991. The status of Echinacea laevigata (Boynton & Beadle) Blake. Unpublished report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Asheville, NC, 24 pp. + appendices and maps.
- Gaddy, L.L. 1992. Overview of the Pine Mountain Smooth Coneflower Management Plan. Unpublished report.
- Gaddy, L.L. 1992. Smooth coneflower survey report. Butner, North Carolina Federal Correctional Complex. Submitted by Louis Berger and Associates, Inc., Washington, D.C. to USFWS.
- Hefferman, K.E., A. Belden, Jr., M.J. Leahy, and R.K, Myers. 2002. Restoration of Habitat for smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata) in Virginia: Phase I – Population Surveys and Management Plan. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Richmond, VA. 43 pp.
- Hefferman, K.E., M.J. Leahy, and R.K, Myers. 2003. Restoration of Habitat for smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata) in Virginia: Phase II – Management and Monitoring. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Richmond, VA. 30 pp.
- Hurlburt, D. 1999. Endangered Echinacea--What Threat, Which Species, and Where?. United Plant Savers Newsletter (UPS Newsletter) 2,1:4-5.
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- Kral, R. 1983. Asteraceae: Echinacea laevigata (Boynt. & Beadle) Blake [Endangered species, perennial plants of open woodlands in Virginia, Georgia and Alabama]. Technical publication R8-TP - USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Vol. 2 pt. 2.
- LeGrand, H.E., Jr. 1986. Picture Creek: Natural area reconnaissance. NC Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh, NC.
- Lipscomb, M. 2002. Population and community monitoring of smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata) in Montgomery County, Virginia Interim Report. Unpublished report.
- Lunsford, E. Undated, ca 2003. Smooth Coneflower, Echinacea laevigata (Boynton and Beadle) Blake monitoring and management 1998-2001. Unpublished report to the NC Plant Conservation Program and USFWS. 162 pp.
- McGregor, R.L. 1968. The taxonomy of the genus Echinacea (Compositae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 48: 113-142.
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- Nelson, J.B. 1992. Rare and Endangered Plant Survey: Fort Jackson Army Installation, Richmond County, South Carolina. Report prepared for the Nature Conservancy of South Carolina.
- North Carolina Botanical Garden. 1995. 1995 Annual report on taxa in the national collection for North Carolina Botanical Garden. Annual report to the Center for Plant Conservation. 1p.
- North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. 1993. Draft management plan for ecologically significant areas within Picture Creek Diabase Barrens. North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, Raleigh, NC.
- Patrick, T.S. 1999. Recovery of Echinacea laevigata. GPCAnews (Newsletter of the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance). 2: 1, 8.
- Peters, M.D. 2005. Genetic analysis of the federally endangered Echinacea laevigata using amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP)—Inferences in population genetic structure and mating system. Masters thesis. North Carolina State University.
- Peters, M.D, Q. Xiang, D.T. Thomas, J. Stucky, and N.K.Whiteman. 2009. Genetic analyses of the federally endangered Echinacea laevigata using amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP)—Inferences in population genetic structure and mating system. Conservation Genetics 10(1):1-14.
- Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC
- Reveal, J.L. and C.R. Broome. 1982. Comments on the proposed endangered and threatened vascular plants of Maryland, USA. Castanea 47(2) 191-200.
- Russo, M. and J.M. Sweeney. 2000. Threatened and Endangered Species in Forests of North Carolina. 183 pp.
- Schafale, M.P. 1992. Xeric Hardpan Forests are uncommon in the Piedmont. The Steward. 6 (10) 9-10.
- Schafale, M. P. and A. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the Natural Communities of North Carolina. 3rd Approximation. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. Division of Parks and Recreation Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources.
- Slapcinsky, J. 1994. The Vegetation and soils associated with Diabase in Granville and Durham Counties, North Carolina. Masters thesis. North Carolina State University.
- Smith, C.W. 1986. The occurrence, distribution, and properties of dispersive soil and saprolite formed over diabase and contact metamorphic rock in a Piedmont landscape in North Carolina. Masters Thesis. North Carolina State University.
- Sutter, R.D. 1987. Inventory of the Natural Areas and Rare Species of Durham County. NC Plant Conservation Program, Raleigh, NC.
- U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson. Undated, ca. 2007. Flora endangered species management component of the INRMP for Smooth coneflower and Rough-leaved loosestrife. U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson. FY 2007-2011. 30 pp.
- USFWS. 1992. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants: Echinacea laevigata (Smooth Coneflower) determined to be endangered. Federal Register 57:46340-46344
- USFWS. 1992. Regional News--Regions 2 & 4. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 17, 9-11: 9, 13-15.
- USFWS. 1995. Smooth Coneflower Recovery Plan. Atlanta, Georgia. 31 pp.
- Wagenius, S. 2006. Scale dependence of reproductive failure in fragmented Echinacea populations. Ecology 87:931-941.
- Weakley, A. 2011. Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. Working Draft May 2011. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
For More Information on Smooth Coneflower...
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Conservation Online System
- Smooth Coneflower Recovery Plan
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service Plants Database
- Center for Plant Conservation species profile
Dale Suiter, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, 919-856-4520 ext. 18
Species profile revised on July 26, 2011.