Echinacea is a large-flowered plant with long and abundant flowering
The scientific name “Echinacea” is from the Greek word “echinos” which means “bristled or like a sea urchin” and “acea” which means “having a shape” (which refers to the hearts of the flowers).
A close look at the flower is really fascinating
What we usually call a flower in the case of all plants from the Asteraceae botanical family, which includes the sunflower, is actually a large head-shaped inflorescence (a type of racemose inflorescence where there are many sessile flowers that do not have a flower stem on an extended and very shortened axis). . On the central cone are flowers that will produce seeds after fertilization. At the edge of the inflorescence is a series of barren flowers, each of which has a delicate long petal and thus attracts insects. The central flowers are arranged in two spirals in opposite directions that start in the center and end at the petals. One is clockwise and the other is counterclockwise.
Echinacea purpurea is native to the eastern parts of the United States. It is found in nature from the federal state of Georgia to Michigan through Oklahoma and Ohio. It grows on prairies and open wooded areas. Indigenous peoples have always known and appreciated the medicinal properties of the plant. European explorers saw the first species of this plant during the 18th century in the forests of southeastern North America. The famous botanist Carl von Linne (1707-1778) first described this species in 1753. He included the plant in the genus “Rudbeckia” as one of the 5 species whose beauty enchanted him. The German botanist Konrad Monch (1744-1805) reclassified Echinacea as a separate but related genus to Rudbeckia only in 1794.
Description of the plant
Echinacea is a perennial herb. It develops a bunch of lance-shaped dark green leaves with coarse hairs near the ground. The flowers appear high above them on long upright unbranched stems. The plant blooms for a long time from the end of June to the end of September and even until the middle of October (so it is one of the most generous cultivated flower species). The aerial part of the plant dries up during the winter, but the root survives the winter, so a new rosette of young leaves emerges from the root in the spring.
This generous feather is hardy, easy to grow and undemanding. It requires a sunny position with more than 6 hours of continuous direct sun per day. The plant likes well-drained soil rich in nutrients, but it thrives on all light and porous soils, gravelly or sandy. They do not tolerate soils with a heavy mechanical composition that retain moisture for a long time, as well as salty soils. Echinacea is drought-resistant and has little need for water. The plant is very sensitive to excessive winter moisture in the soil (which causes rotting of the roots). It does not require any special care except for the regular removal of overgrown flowers due to aesthetic reasons.
Reasons why Echinacea should be grown
The plant blooms long and profusely with gorgeous and large flowers. There are dozens of species with various colors and shades of petals – from those in the flower that reach only 30 cm to those whose height is up to 1 meter. Suitable plant cultivars can be found for every sunny garden or balcony and for every taste. One plant develops a bush about half a meter in diameter, so it fills the space of large gardens well. By combining species with various flower colors and plant heights, you can easily create spacious, luxurious and attractive flower beds with a relatively small number of plants. Echinacea in combinations with similar rudbeckias can create a floral spectacle that lasts until the end of summer. The plant is very resistant and tolerates summer heat and drought as well as low winter temperatures on the right soil.
Echinacea is a very medicinal plant
It contains numerous active substances (alkylamides, ketoalkanes, ether oils, polyacetylene derivatives, phenolic acids, polysaccharides and glycoproteins). The variety “Echinacea purpurea” is most often used (the freshly squeezed juice and extracts of the fresh plant have exceptional medicinal properties, while the dried plant has significantly reduced medicinal properties).
Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea pallida is recommended if used in the form of tea (because they are resistant to the drying process)
- Traditional echinacea preparations are used as a means to strengthen immunity, the active ingredients stimulate the activation of macrophages (cells that destroy bacteria and viruses through the process of phagocytosis, thus having a beneficial effect on the defense system and as a preventive measure against flu and colds).
- Use is recommended for respiratory system diseases (to relieve coughing, bronchitis, sore throat, sinusitis).
- The use is also successful for alleviating headaches, metabolic problems and excessive sweating.
- Echinacea extracts have an antiseptic effect and accelerate wound healing if applied locally.
- It is often used against skin diseases, for the treatment of injuries and inflammatory conditions of the skin, has a beneficial effect on the healing of ulcers, abscesses, wounds, phlegmon and varicose ulcers, and accelerates the resolution of herpes.
- The most commonly used is Echinacea purpurea Alba (a cultivar with large white flowersand delicate petals around the orange central cone, develops a height of up to 80 cm and a width of up to 50 cm, is used in mixed compositions with other plumes and ornamental shrubs where it gives bright tones in most of the vegetation, is successfully grown in planters on constantly sunny balconies, is used as a cut flower or for dry flower arrangements), and Echinacea purpurea “Magnus” (a cultivar obtained in 1985 in Sweden and develops larger flowers than the original species, has large bright pink flowers arranged around an orange-burgundy cone, has a fine scent of honey and vanilla, develops height about 100 cm and width about 50 cm, it is used in mixed compositions with other feathers and decorative shrubs where it gives warm tones, it can be grown in larger planters on constantly sunny terraces, it is used as a cut flower, while when dried it is a very attractive part of dry ikebana and flower arrangements).