I mentioned one of my unusual coneflower plants a week or two ago when I took a look at the echinacea in my garden. Since then a few more goofy examples have started blooming.

Right now I  have three separate plants that are non-typical coneflowers. I'm not sure what's going on. Is it a disease of some sort, or just a mutation?

Edit: as noted in the comments, this is evidence of "aster yellows",  a viral-like disease caused by a phytoplasma. More info here.


The first weird one showed up a few years ago as a volunteer. It came back and must have produced some offspring. There's this one, which I showed in the earlier post:

I was thinking at the time of the other post that this one may eventually turn into a normal bloom, or at least a more normal one, but you can see that it hasn't.

There's this one now too:

Also this one that is similar but different:

I do have a few "normal" coneflowers mixed in here:

But right now (because of deer damage) the percentage of mutants is about 50%.

I like them, but they don't seem to attract the bees (although I'm not entirely sure about that), and they're certainly less colorful than the other varieties. Worth keeping around? I think so.

Strange is not always bad.


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (July 4, 2011 at 11:25 AM)  

You may have discovered a new echninacea hybrid!!

Anne McCormack  – (July 4, 2011 at 2:53 PM)  

I have a few that do this too occasionally. I wondered if it was a plant virus. Mine are the unimproved wild purple coneflower.

Jennifer  – (July 4, 2011 at 3:43 PM)  

Usually the first thing that comes to mind when someone says there's something wrong with their Echinacea is aster yellows. It's a virus spread by leaf-hoppers that causes mutated growth habits in the flower (like a second flower growing out of another), and stunted yellowish foliage. I've never known aster yellows damage to be so symmetrical and uniform, but according to the photos in the link below, it seems that is what is going on with your Echinacea. Aster yellows in incurable, but it can be controlled (see link).

Our newly planted Echinacea had aster yellows the first year. We did remove the most seriously infected plants, (about 1/2) and the rest seem to be doing well.

greggo  – (July 4, 2011 at 6:31 PM)  

you've got to keep from sleepwalking and nibbling the petals off.

Alan  – (July 5, 2011 at 7:47 AM)  

Jennifer: thanks so much! It appears that aster yellows is exactly what these plants have. Shoot -- now I'll have to remove those three plants.

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