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Echinacea (Coneflower)

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Echinacea is a highly powerful medicinal plant. It is also native to North America as well, which always piques my interest. One thing I find curious is the lack of interest by the science community and the general population, save for the gardeners. Let's dive into these beautiful and vigorous flowering plants shall we?

Modern day studies are limited on echinacea as a healing agent, but Native American tribes used them for generations for common cold symptoms (sore throat, headaches, upset stomachs.) A study on mice, published by the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at McGill University determined that daily intake of the herb showed prophylactic (disease treating) effects on leukemia!

It even strengthened immunity and bone marrow in healthy subjects. The study also notes that humans share 97% genetic makeup with mice, and that testing on humans would be simple and effective. So why hasn't anyone done further research?

Unfortunately, western medicine is highly reticent to say that a wild growing plant can have a greater prophylactic effects for disease than their chemically made medicines can. It is truly a shame for humanity's sake, however in some circles the opinion is reversing.

Many companies have made teas and tinctures loaded with this flower power, so you can try to see its effects yourself. I can in no way encourage you to do anything to treat yourself holistically, and I have even heard of the effects of echinacea to be too strong for children. So just be careful. I can say that I have enjoyed a cup of chamomile tea with echinacea before bed a time or two, and I have no complaints.

Now that my herbalism tirade is over, let's talk coneflowers.

Echinacea plants are perennial flowering bushes, that self seed and spread rapidly in the right environment. This is because the fact that they can send up a dozen or more flowers from one single small plant! Having that many blooms sure adds to the visual impact of your flower garden.

The coneflower plant thrives in full or partial sun, and soil on the poor a rocky side. They do not like consistent moisture, making them perfect for mountain landscape gardens. In fact, they are originally from montane meadows and sub-alpine forests, so they are right at home in high elevation flowerbeds.

Simply plant a live cutting in spring or fall, or sow seeds from a coneflower in the fall for next year flowers! Once established they will clump and spread easily, or you can harvest the seeds yourself in the fall and spread them wherever you like.

Echinaceas come in many forms, all originating from the United States. For sake of the mountain homestead I recommend the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Many of the hybrids will not reproduce, nor survive harsh winters like these ones can.

These are clearly an important plant for anybody that wishes to be capable of treating themselves holistically, as well as those who want to provide amazing blooms for pollinators. Especially those looking for incredible colors late in the summer should look into growing coneflower. Most assuredly, Echinacea play an important role at a High Altitude Homestead.


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