Purple ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea
(also known as 'Eastern Purple Coneflower' or simply 'Purple Coneflower') is native to Eastern North American and in the sunflower family. It can now be found in the wild in much of the eastern, southeastern and Midwestern United States as well as in the Canadian Province of Ontario.
Although Echinacea became well known and quite popular for its medicinal properties during the later part of the twentieth-century, it is also a wonderful addition to your perennial flower garden.
It does well over a broad range of climate zones but does not grow in shady locations. It seems to do equally well in moist or dry soil, and once established, can tolerate drought conditions. Depending on the location, it blooms throughout the summer and into the early fall.
When starting from seed, daily temperature fluctuations or stratification is required to end dormancy. For best results, start seeds indoors in flats and transplant prior to the beginning of the growing season. Surface sow or cover no more than one-eighth inch deep.
Along with starting from seeds, once your plants are established, you can increase your population of them by division or cuttings. In the early spring or late fall, you can break up clumps and replant them. Additionally, in the late fall to early winter, you can also take cuttings of roots that are at least the diameter of a pencil, plant those, and they will develop into plants.
'Purple Coneflower' prefers locations that receive full sun and soil that is well-drained. A perennial in USDA zones 3-9. Each packet contains two grams of seeds, which is about 500 seeds.
Echinacea has been used for centuries by the indigenous native Americans. The plant was used externally for wounds, burns, and insect bites, chewing of roots for toothache and throat infections; internal application is used for pain, cough, stomach cramps and snake bites.
The mature roots of the plants are what contain the pharmacologically active substances and what are used for medicinal preparations. Fresh roots can be dried, powdered and encapsulated (one to two "00" capsules), made into a tincture (one teaspoonful), or made into a decoction (one tablespoonful). The dosage is of any of these three preparations, three to six times daily, depending on the severity of the infection or illness.[2,3,7]
Echinacea seems to be quite safe and does not usually cause side effects. One of the most extensive and systematic studies to review the safety of Echinacea products concluded that overall, "adverse events are rare, mild and reversible
," with the most common symptoms being "gastrointestinal and skin-related
Additionally, there have been no case reports of any drug interactions with Echinacea and "the currently available evidence suggests that echinacea is unlikely to pose serious health threats for patients combining it with conventional drugs
These reports confirm the earlier works of Tierra and Santillo.[2,3]