Coneflower question

Asked July 23, 2020, 4:04 PM EDT

I have several clumps of purple cone flowers. Many have what I think is a virus that results in no petals. However last year one plant came up with completely white petals. I dug it up and replanted it elsewhere in my yard and it is currently growing vigorously with all white blooms. This year In the original clump that had the white sport(?) there is a plant with two tone petals purple/white. Just curious what is going on here. [I apologize if this is a duplicate request. I thought maybe i already asked.b ut have no record of doing so]

Prince George's County Maryland

3 Responses

Hi - These are interesting observations and it looks like your tone-toned plant indeed has a virus. The mottling of yellow-green on the foliage is a symptom of a virus. The mixed coloration in the flower petals is referred to as color "breaking."

Tulips are perhaps the most famous flowers that were cultivated in the past for this unique type of color breaking. https://ipm.illinois.edu/diseases/rpds/634.pdf

The white-flowering plant most likely occurred as a result of a natural genetic variation.

Viruses are systemic in plants, meaning they are present all throughout. There is no remedy and we typically recommend pulling and discarding virus-infected plants. Insects such as aphids and thrips can be vectors of viruses, transmitting them from plant to plant by way of their feeding. Cucumber mosaic virus and impatiens necrotic spot virus are some of the viruses known to affect Echinacea, and these can get into other plant species.
https://extension.psu.edu/echinacea-diseases

This is not a symptom we see often. Our plant pathologist would like to know if you would be willing to send some clearer photos of the color breaking plant to use for teaching purposes. If you are willing to share additional photos, you can attach them to this reply. Thanks.

Christa

Here are some additional images as requested, thanks for the information

You're welcome. Thank you for the additional photos.