Purple coneflower, butterflyweed and blazing star are some of the native perennials that have made the leap from our prairies into our gardens. Though it's not as well-known, wild quinine seems destined to become a prairie-to-garden crossover, as well.
This handsome herbaceous perennial grows about 2 to 4 feet tall and has many upright stems that hold large, leathery, dark green leaves with slightly wavy edges. It's prized for its long flowering period, which extends from midsummer through early fall and for its small, pure white flowers that are borne in dense clusters. The star-shaped flowers have a pleasantly sharp fragrance and make an excellent cut flower, sort of a sturdier version of baby's breath.
Plant wild quinine in full sun or partial shade. This resilient native grows in a range of soil types including fairly heavy clay. It prefers average to slightly moist soils, though it is also reasonably drought tolerant once established. Wild quinine looks great planted with other native flowers and grasses, but it also makes a fine addition to more traditional perennial gardens.
Plant type: herbaceous perennial
Season: flowers mid-summer through early fall
Size: 2 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide
Availability as: seeds or plants from nurseries that specialize in native plants
Fun fact: Wild quinine was once used medicinally to reduce fevers, which explains its other common name, American feverfew.
Nancy Rose, Contributing Writer