The cone flower's botanical name is Echinacea. It is from the Greek word echinos, meaning hedgehog or sea urchin, referring to the spiny seed heads of the flower.
It has long been esteemed for its herbal qualities and was widely used by the Native American Indians and the white settlers, who used it to treat snake bites, rabies, and other wounds.
In the late 1800s, a traveling peddler from Nebraska, one Joseph Meyer, began making a tincture from the root of Echinacea. He touted his tonic as being able to prevent and/or cure poisonous snake bites, giving rise to the pejorative term "snake oil salesman."
Despite its colorful history, Echinacea is one of the most popular herbal remedies used throughout the world today, mainly for warding off colds and flu symptoms.