Echinacea

Echinacea

Echinacea purpurea

While Echinacea is most popular today for its ability to help with colds and the flu, where Echinacea really shines is in its ability to help the body fight off infections.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Coneflower
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Flowers, Leaves & Roots
  • Side Effects: An allergic reaction may be possible in people with allergies to daisy family plants.
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About Echinacea

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is hailed as a medicinal herb, marked by its distinctive purple coneflowers. It is held by the family Asteraceae (sunflower family). This spiritually calming plant is an herbaceous perennial plant with hermaphroditic flowers i.e. bearing both male and female organs to carry out fertilization.

This easy-growing and time-honored perennial are famous for its purported immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, and anxiolytic effects. It is also applauded in the world of skincare for dealing with plenty of skin problems.

Both the upper parts and roots of the plant are employed in the field of medicine in the form of tincture, teas, extract, and tablets.

The medicinal activity of Echinacea is attributed to its active ingredients that are polysaccharides, alkamides, glycoproteins, and caffeic acid. From curtailing the blood sugar level to curing snake bites, these active ingredients have the potential to bring wonders to your body.

Note: People with autoimmune disorders, or who are allergic to other flowers are obliged to consult a physician before commencing the use of Echinacea. Furthermore, its chronic use may subject to hepatic compromisation.

Growing

The growth of this purple bloom is highly favored by the winds of spring or early summer. Both indoor and outdoor settings are highly capable of encouraging healthy growth but certain limitations need meticulous attention.

For indoor settings, check the temperature of the soil. It must be around 65°F.  Whereas for outdoor planting, spring or early summer is preferred for plantation, probably a month before last spring frost dates.

Well-drained soil with handsome sun exposure highly assists in the growth of blooms. On the other hand, they are highly drought and poor soil tolerant but to observe the best performance, try mixing some organic matter.

If plantation of coneflowers is commenced from a seed, artificial stratification is done, and the person should observe patience for about 2 to 3 years.

Transplantation or division of the Echinacea plant is preferred in spring or fall.

Harvesting

Early summer (typically June and July) brings the precious gift of blooming Echinacea flowers. They can mature up to a height of about 4 feet. The dome-shaped center transforms into a seed head which gets readily dispersed by wind, animals and other various media.

After pollination, fertilization follows eagerly which leads to fruit formation which is considered quite tongue-tingling.

Echinacea is an endangered plant. It is instructed to plant and harvest them on your own rather than depending on the ones harvested from the wild.

Fall is the best time to harvest the flowers for making therapeutically active teas. Also, roots and other aerial parts of this perennial should be harvested in the second or third year of growth.

The flowers of the Echinacea are harvested by making use of a sharp pair of shears. Cut the stem and then strip the leaves. Use the flowers or leaves the way you like it and enjoy its benefits. The roots and other aerial parts are harvested by employing a shovel or garden fork. The roots of the plant have to be lifted up to be harvested whereas the aerial parts are cut through shears.  The roots of the Echinacea plant are medicinally important while the aerial parts are employed for making herbal teas and whatnot.

The parts of the plant are advised to be dried in a warm and well-ventilated room for five to seven days. Direct heat and sunlight must not reach them.  Store the parts separately in a sealed container and place the respective containers in a cool, dark and dry place.

Usage

The treats of Echinacea are celebrated all around the world in various dosage forms. Some of them are listed below:

  • Tincture - The flowers, leaves, and roots are employed with the addition of alcohol in making Echinacea tincture. 
  • Tea - The flowers, leaves, and roots of Echinacea are steeped in boiling water for a considerable time and enjoyed for its immune-boosting and other magical effects.
  • Decoction- Usually, the roots of Echinacea are used in combination with other plant’s roots for making a robust decoction.
  • Salve - Flowers and leaves of this highly dignified plant are utilized along with beeswax and desirable carrier oil in preparing a salve.
  • Syrup - The roots of Echinacea are brought into play and are paired with elderberries (usually) when it comes to making syrup.
  • Infused oil- Dried leaves and flowers are infused with oil for a period of four to six weeks to attain the Echinacea infused oil.