Chicago Unveils Orange Coneflowers

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The Orange Meadowbrite with other coneflowers at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Linda Oyama Bryan hide caption

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The Chicago Botanic Garden announces the creation of a new coneflower — in orange, not the usual purple. The flowering plant was derived by breeding different strains of coneflower, yielding a plant that has become wildly popular.

Part of that popularity is due to gardeners' renewed interest in native plants. The coneflower, a type of daisy, has long grown across North America's plains. For years, American Indians used the plant — species Echinacea — for its medicinal benefits.

The Chicago plant, called the Orange Meadowbrite, was created by Jim Ault, the garden's director of ornamental plant research. Ault reportedly cross-bred hybrids more than 90 times before arriving at the desired color and shape.

Ault talks with NPR's Michele Norris about the new flower's history and current popularity.



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