An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide – maryholland505@gmail.com

Save Those Seedheads!

People have Echinacea (Coneflower) in their medicine cabinets for a number of reasons. One of the more prevalent ones is Echinacea’s purported ability to shorten the duration of the common cold and flu, as well as lessen the severity of symptoms.  It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that humans learned of the possible benefits of this plant by observing the presence of butterflies (fritillaries, monarchs, painted ladies and swallowtails) at its flowers and birds (American Goldfinch, Black-Capped Chickadee, Dark-Eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, Pine Siskin) at its seedheads.

This is the time of year gardeners are starting to think about cutting back their dying perennials in an effort to have tidier gardens.  If you have Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) or one of the other species of Echinacea you know that they are no longer attracting the myriad butterflies that visit in the summer.  However, hold your clippers, for it’s highly likely that birds, especially American Goldfinches, will be feeding on your coneflower seeds in the near future. These seedheads are beneficial not only because they provide seeds, but because they reduce the birds’ reliance on feeders in the winter.  Finches are highly susceptible to Finch Eye Disease which spreads easily from infected birds to other finches when they all use the same feeder.

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3 responses

  1. Dale Dailey

    Yes, gold finches have been feasting on our cone flowers here in central Michigan for about 10 days. I’m sure there will still be seeds left for planting in our nature preserve.

    September 17, 2021 at 3:14 pm

  2. Alice

    Only have one plant this year, will buy more next year!

    September 17, 2021 at 4:13 pm

  3. Bill on the Hill...

    Echinacea: Beats the jab any day of the week…A rather handsome fellow Mary, a beautiful photograph…
    Bill… :~)

    September 18, 2021 at 7:12 am

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