Botanical Name: Echinacea purpurea
This bright and resilient herbaceous plant is believed to be native to the Southeast U.S. before it made its way East in the late 1960s. The nickname is purple coneflower, and the radiant violets and magentas on the petals and in the bulb are hard to not be captivated by. Although we are familiar with the plant’s extensive use for immune support, originally in Europe the plant was known primarily for its topical applications. The name Echinacea is derived from the Greek word echinos which translates to “hedgehog,” referring to the flower’s bulbous spiny seed head.
We grow the herb as a perennial and harvest the aerial portions and root separately. This plant is drought and disease tolerant and is one of the best beneficial insect attractors. We harvest the roots after two full seasons of growth.
Both the leaf and the root are tasty in teas and tinctures. They also can be used topically by macerating the herb material into oil.