Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)
The three main varieties of Purple Coneflower are: Echinacea purpura, Echinacea augustifolia, and Echinacea pallida.
Echinacea purpura: Tall and stout, with wide leaves; large purple flowers with a high (1 to 2″) cone; yellow pollen; grows scattered in the eastern states
Echinacea pallida: Smaller, with narrow leaves; pale purple petals; white pollen; grows in northern plains states.
Echinacea augustifolia: Shortest plant, with narrow leaves; shorter petals, not so drooping; grows in middle to lower plains states.
Purple Coneflower grows from 2 to 5 feet tall. The flowers resemble a Black-Eyed Susan, with purple rays, radiating from the cone-shaped center.
The flower has a single stem covered with bristly hairs and narrow leaves. Purple Coneflower grows in poor, rocky, slightly acid soil in full sun, but it will thrive in richer soils.
Plant the seeds when the outside temperature reaches the 70’s.
Simply tamp the seeds into moist, sandy soil. Don’t cover the seeds with dirt. It takes three to four years for the roots to grow large enough to harvest. Pull them in autumn after the plant has gone to seed.
Family: Compositae (Sunflower family)
Other Names: Black Samson, Rudbeckia, and Missouri Snakeroot
Flowers: June – September
Parts Used: Root , rhizome, leaves and flowers
Habitat: Open woods, thickets; cultivated in gardens. From Michigan and Ohio to Louisiana, east to Texas and Oklahoma.
History: The native American Indians used Echinacea for more medicinal purposes than any other plant group. It was passed on to the frontiersmen and settlers and now it is widely used around the world, especially in Europe, though it is not native there.
Samples of Echinacea have been found in archaeological digs of American Indian sites dating back to the 1600’s.
Echinacea was known to European botanists as early as the 1690’s, and the botanist Moench named the genus Echinacea in 1794, from the Greek echinos (sea urchin or hedgehog), referring to the plant’s sea urchin-like cone. However, the Europeans knew nothing about the medicinal properties until around 1870.
Today more than 240 pharmaceutical preparations are made from Echinacea plants in West Germany, including extracts, salves, and tinctures. Most West German Echinacea preparations use extracts of above-ground parts and roots of Echinacea purpura.
Constituents: Glycoside, Polysaccharide, Polyacetylenes, Isobutylalklamines,
Resin, Inulin, Sesquiterpene and essential oils (including Humulene and Caryophylene
Properties: Antibiotic, Antiseptic, Depurative, Digestive.
Main Uses: A very useful remedy for modern bacterial infections consist of taking by mouth, three droppers full of the tincture of Echinacea, three times a day for three days, waiting one day then continue again for the duration of the infection. One dropper contains approximately 27 to 30 drops of the tincture.
Echinacea was the American Indians’ primary medicine. They applied root poultices to wounds, insect bites and stings, and snakebites. They used Echinacea mouthwash for painful teeth and gums. (Note that Echinacea often causes a tingling sensation on the tongue. This is normal. The medical studies contain no reports of Echinacea toxicity.)
Echinacea preparations can be applied to cuts, burns, psoriasis, eczema, genital herpes, and cold sores. The antibiotic effect of the plant has been scientifically verified.
Echinacea has a deserved reputation for enhancing the immune system. Studies have shown that the herb stimulates the production of white blood cells, which fight infection.
Abscesses and boils, allergies, bites & stings, blood poisoning, bronchitis, burns, candidiasis, colds & flu, eczema, food poisoning, herpes, infections and wounds, leucopenia, PID (pelvic inflammatory disease, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, skin ulcers, staph infections, strep throat, tonsil and throat infections, upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and whooping cough.
Preparation And Dosage:
Some experts recommend the following doses:
Steep a teaspoonful of the granulated root into a cup of boiling water for half an hour. Strain. Take a tablespoonful three times a day.
Tincture: Fresh (1:2), dry (1:5) in 70% alcohol. 3 droppers full three times a day, not to exceed 10 days. Each dropper will contain approximately 27 to 30 drops.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)