Common Names: Purple Coneflowers, Echinacea
Echinacea species are herbaceous, drought-tolerant perennial plants growing up to 140 cm or 4 feet tall. This perennial flowering plants in the daisy family can easily grow from seeds, rather than being transplanted.
Echinacea seeds grow into a bulb-like structures called rhizomes. Scatter the seeds onto a paper towel moisten with water, then slide the paper towel into a sealed plastic bag and refrigerate for two months.
Prepare the garden plot while the seeds go through stratification, then place them into soil in Spring and wait for the magic to happen. Echinacea blooms about mid-summer and lasts about a month, after which there is a temporary dormancy. Some plants may bloom again during early autumn and allow multiple flowers harvesting.
Consider this is a sun loving plant that produces attractive purple to pink blooms. The petals drop downward revealing a rust colored cone in the center; often used in beds and borders, echinacea plants are simple to grow and require minimal maintenance.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES AND USES
Echinacea is a very popular herb, leaves and flower petals are edible and all parts of the plant have been used in tinctures and other medicinal methods. It was used as a traditional herbal remedy for more than 400 years by Native American Indian tribes.
Echinacea has a complex mix of active substances, some of which are said to be antimicrobial, while others have the power to boost the entire human immune system. This powerful plant has antioxidant properties and when assumed can help reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu and infection. Today available in the form of teas, liquid extracts, a dried herb, and as capsules or pills.
Prior to 1950 Echinacea held an esteemed medicinal status as strong alternative to pharmaceutical antibiotics for Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and tuberculosis.
Nowadays, Pharmaceutical companies rely on incomplete science and market-driven solutions, to produce patented isolates that are quick, efficient and cost-effective to get to market. Bacteria that reproduces so quickly can easily find a way around that one mechanism. Plants on the other hand, have far more complexity. They have had hundreds of thousands of years to evolve their complex chemical compounds that work together to produce strong and effective medicines.