Research

Smooth purple coneflower downlisted from endangered to threatened

The North Carolina Botanical Garden has been a key partner in the conservation and recovery of the species over the last 30 years.

Smooth purple coneflower (Echinacea laevigata)
Smooth purple coneflower (North Carolina Botanical Garden)

In a shift that represents a significant milestone in the recovery of smooth purple coneflower (Echinacea laevigata), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reclassifying the southeastern native plant from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This change comes as a result of years of work by partners across the plant’s range, including the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

Smooth purple coneflower grows in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia in open woodlands and glades over rocks rich in iron, magnesium and calcium. Historically, it has relied on regular wildfires to keep its natural savanna habitat open and sunny. Fire suppression, development and invasive species have threatened its survival.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden has been a key partner in the conservation and recovery of smooth purple coneflower.

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the species as endangered in 1992, 39 populations had disappeared, and the remaining 21 populations were vulnerable and unstable.

Learn about the Garden has worked to restore smooth purple coneflower populations over the past 30 years.