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Latin Name: Echinacea Purpurea and Echinacea Angustifolia
By: Home Herbalism Student
Synonym: Purple Cone Flower
Introduction: Echinacea is an extremely wide-known plant among home herbalist. This weekend, I went to dig the root for making an herbal extract, and I realized that I had questions about this plant. What are the differences between angustifolia and purpurea? Which plant was originally used? Which has more useful constituents?
Description: An eye-catching beauty, this drought tolerant perennial plant blooms in late summer and continues until frost. The garden variety (purpurea) can grow to be up to 4 feet tall and has more of a "hairy" type root. The wild variety (angustifolia) has a tap root. The stems are erect and unbranched unless pinched back in the spring. The leaves are usually hairy and rough.
Care of Plant: The plant is usually not long-lived. If you wish to keep yours going, you will need to propogate the plant by seed or by division every 2 to 3 years.
Parts used: The entire plant can be used, but will need to be harvested at different times. The leaves can be harvested in spring, the flowers in full bloom, and the root after frost.
Action: Highly valued by the Kiowa, Cheyenne and Lakota Indians for sore throat, coughs, wounds and as an analgesic. Recently, a 4 month long study in Canada found that an herb/ root extract of E.purperea reduced virally confirmed colds compared to the placebo. In addition, as children's study of 2-11 year olds was conducted and found the E.purperea caused at 28% reduced risk of developing and Upper Respiratory Infection. Echinacea has also been used to treat vaginal candidiasis.
Constituents: They include polysaccarides, glycoproteins, caffeic acid, cichoirc acid and alkamides. These constituents are the same for both purperea and angustifolia.
Caution: May not be safe in pregnancy. An allergic reaction can occur in those with an allergy to the daisy family.
American Botanical Council website
Armitage, Allan M. Herbaceaous Perennial Plants: A Treatise on their Identification, Culture, and Garden Attributes Varsity Press, 1999.
Low Dog M.D, Tieraona, Healthy at Home, National Geographic, 2014.
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