How To Harvest Purple Coneflower

The Echinacea plant’s roots and aerial parts are both useful. The roots of the plant contain the most potent medication, although the aerial parts are most frequently utilized to make herbal drinks.

In the second year of growth, the aerial sections can be harvested. Simply cutting the stem above the lowest pair of leaves will allow you to harvest the aerial components. From the stem, remove the leaves and blossom buds, and lay them flat to dry. Anytime during the growth season is appropriate for this. You should do it when you are reducing the amount of echinacea.

A 2-3 year old plant’s roots should be harvested in the spring or the fall. While E. Purpurea has a taproot, E. Augustifolia has fibrous roots. Using a shovel or a garden fork, dig around the Echinacea plant and remove the roots out of the soil. I essentially dig up the entire plant’s root ball with a big shovel. You can now harvest the roots by taking fragments of the root from the root ball or by removing the entire plant. You can thin out your Echinacea patch by taking out the entire plant. You can replant the leftover roots in the ground if you only want to harvest a portion of the root ball.

Locate some plants

Although the first step might seem straightforward, it is significantly more crucial than you might realize. Once you have recognized certain plants, you can determine whether they are actual native species or cultivars if they are found in the wild.

However, you should be mindful that the plant might be a hybrid if you plan to save seeds from a neighbor’s strangely colored (orange, white, or red) coneflower. The seeds will produce a different flower if it is a hybrid. (More information is provided at the article’s end.)

Collect seed heads

The seeds will begin to form a few weeks after the flowers have finished blooming. There are really two locations on the seed head of echinacea where seeds can be gathered. both inside the actual “cone” of the cone flower as well as at the base of each petal.

Echinacea seed heads can be harvested whenever they begin to turn brown or dry out. Either 5 or 6 below the seed head is where you should make the cut. Alternately, hold the seed head gently and make an incision immediately below it. These should go in a paper bag.

Before harvesting, you should allow the seed heads to completely dry out. Alternatively, you could give the seeds themselves a week to completely dry out.

Remove seed from the seed head

Here’s where my method for preserving echinacea seeds shines the brightest! The “cone” or seed head is highly thorny and unpleasant to handle, as you are already aware. Therefore, we will do something far better than using clippers to cut the seed head open and release the seeds.

Obtain a container with a minimum 6 diameter and 6 height, such as a used coffee can made of plastic. Place a few seed heads into the coffee can, shut the lid, and give it a good shake! The seed will come free from the cones after shaking for roughly 10 to 20 seconds.

Simply lift the top and take out the (now-empty) coneflower seed heads at that point. The majority of the good, live Echinacea seed will be what is left in the can (and a small amount of chaff). The seed can now be allowed to dry for another week or two on a plate or in a cool, dry area (and not in direct sunlight).

Sift the seed to remove chaff (Optional)

I also have another suggestion if you don’t want some chaff mixed in with your seed. A standard kitchen strainer can be used to get rid of the chaff. Simply pour the seed/chaff mixture into a strainer and twirl it around lightly.

Most of the chaff will either fall or blow away if you do this outside. Much of it will fall through the strainer if it is inside. Everything depends on you. Hey, to each their own, but I don’t mind the chaff.

Store the seed

I keep my echinacea seeds in a variety of plastic jars or containers. Zip-lock bags or plastic baggies also work well. I’ve found that the seed will remain healthy for a number of years following harvest. However, the proportion of seeds that will sprout gradually declines with time.

Additionally, I have uploaded a video to YouTube that details the procedure. In order for you to witness the entire procedure from beginning to end in action, I’ve provided a link to the video below.

Want to know the best techniques for germination of echinacea? Below is a thorough description of how to cultivate coneflower from seed that addresses any and all queries (stratification, planting depths, etc).

When ought echinacea to be picked?

Two plants of varying sizes from the same E. purpurea cluster. It is simpler to track roots and distinguish the echinacea from the other plants in the clump if leaves are left on plants when they are divided for replanting and tincturing.

Before digging the Echinacea purpurea plant to manufacture tincture, it must be at least three years old. Here, we take it after the frost, when the leaves, seed heads, and stalks are all dark in color.

The largest root of E. purpurea at the crown is prepared to be split from fibrous roots. The crown will be maintained for replanting, and the roots will be cut back for tincturing.

The presence of vascular rings in E. pallida’s roots aids in the identification of the plant as echinacea. Even the small fibrous roots of E. purpurea exhibit these rings.

Excellent close-up of E. pallida’s vascular rings, which separate the crown for replanting from the root for tincture.

Plants of E. purpurea are divided for replanting and tincturing. Whole tincturing roots are at the top, and the plant has been pruned for replanting with the crown at the bottom.

Plants and crowns are separated for replanting as follows: bottom, trimmed crowns on wet paper towels; top, plants with tops wrapped in damp towel; top right, crowns are placed in damp towels and plastic bags to conserve root moisture until time for replanting.

Splash some menstruum (90-proof vodka or 1 part pure grain alcohol to 1 part distilled water) on the roots as you pound them to aid in the process.

Pour the menstruum over the crushed root in a clean glass container that has a plastic top. 2 parts menstruum to 1 part root is the customary ratio.

It is now time to strain the completed tincture, which has been matured for two to six weeks. The leaves and/or blossoms should only be allowed to steep for 48 hours when creating a tincture. All tinctures need to be shaken twice a day for the menstruum and root to function at their optimum.

The tincture can be strained using a yogurt cheese maker.

It strains the tincture effectively and moves quickly. Naturally, if you create a lot of tinctures, a tincture press is fantastic, but a sieve coated with fine cheesecloth works just as well. Apply pressure on the roots with a pestle to get out every last drop of flavor.

When prepared, transfer the tincture to a pristine, brown glass bottle. Since the rubber tends to degrade, we use a variety of recycled dark glass bottles and swap out worn-out droppers for fresh ones.

Insert the fork or shovel into the ground all around E. purpurea, between 11/2 and 2 feet away from the plant.

Use the fork’s tines to gently lift the plant from the bottom up, making sure to get the entire root. It will be necessary to separate the clump’s echinacea and other plant roots.

Where do you get your echinacea from?

There are 11 plants in the Echinacea genus, the majority of which are regarded as coneflowers. These include the narrow-leaf coneflower, Echinacea angustifolia, and the sanguine purple coneflower, Echinacea sanguinea, which served as the foundation for early medicinal studies on the genus (TWC Staff, 2013, Brinker, 2013). Asteraceae is the family of plants that includes Echinacea purpurea.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat

Although E. purpurea is currently present in at least 27 states and two Canadian provinces, it originated originally from the northeast of Texas. In the eastern to central United States, E. purpurea is widespread. E. purpurea prefers sandy or loamy soil that is well drained.

Description

A perennial, E. purpurea with drooping rays that range in color from lavender to pink and a brownish central disk that contains numerous spiny seeds. The Greek word echinos, which means hedgehog in allusion to the bristly seed tops, served as the inspiration for the genus name Echinacea. Flowers can be found on a single stem, and the plant has smooth stems that are 2 to 5 feet tall. From April until September, the flowers are in bloom. The lancolate, ovate, green leaves have a rough texture and serrated or dentate margins.

Portion of the Plant Used

Due to the numerous conventional and contemporary medical applications of Echinacea purpurea, numerous plant components are utilized to variable degrees. All parts of the flower—flowers, leaves, stems, and roots—are employed in medical procedures.

Traditional Uses

Numerous ailments have been treated using E. purpurea. The primary focus of this plant’s traditional usage has been its ability to reduce inflammation, which can occur anywhere or in any situation, including on the skin or as a result of an immunological response. Herbal tea made from the blossoms is supposed to strengthen the immune system. The herb has traditionally been used to treat colds, infections, wounds, ulcers, and inflammatory skin conditions (Van Wyk et.al., 2004). There may be further unusual uses for the plant, depending on where it is in the world. Echinacea purpurea is utilized as an anti-venom in India, while it is also used to treat inflammation in Italy (Ross, 1999).

Research

Echinacea angustifolia, rather than Echinacea purpurea, was used in the genus’ early medicinal use. Even in 1923, when at least ten out of 700 doctors mentioned using Echinacea to treat influenza, doctors continued to advocate its usage (Brinker, 2013). Taking significant doses of E. angustifolia (130–1750 mg), often peaking after just one day, caused individuals to have an increase in leukocyte count, according to a 1934 study at the Eclectic Medical College (Brinker, 2013). German researchers contributed to part of the fall in the use of E. angustifolia in medicine by demonstrating that the extract only mildly inhibited gram-positive bacteria like Streptococcal and Staphylococcus aureus (Brinker, 2013).

While E. angustifolia was the subject of the majority of early investigations on the survivability of Echinaeca species, Dr. John King’s Eclectic American Dispensary, published in 1853, highlighted E. purpurea’s potential medical applications (Brinker, 2013). Despite the roots not being allowed at the time, a German Commission authorized the use of E. purpurea liquid in 1989 as a “supportive treatment for persistent respiratory and urinary infections as well as wound healing” (Brinker, 2013).

Recent investigations have demonstrated the immunostimulatory properties of this plant (Crellin, 1990). In order to determine whether utilizing Echinacea for the common cold and associated events was effective, a significant meta-analysis of previous research was conducted in 2007. (Brinker, 2013). After this meta-analysis, significant decreases in the frequency and duration of sickness were observed (Brinker, 2013). An investigation into E. purpurea’s impact on the common cold was conducted in 2012. In this study, individuals who took Echinacea extract experienced a substantial reduction in recurrent infections compared to those who took ibuprofen (Jamal et.al, 2012; Brinker, 2013).

Side Effects, Interactions, and Contraindications

Researchers hypothesize that there may be dangers associated with using the Echinacea herb in conjunction with a number of systemic illnesses, such as AIDS, leukemia, collagenosis, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, and some autoimmune diseases (Brinker, 2013). This theory is based in part on the impact E. purpurea has on the enzyme cytochrome P450 3A4, which influences how much medication, particularly macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and erythromycin, is absorbed (Brinker, 2013).

Should coneflowers be deadheaded?

Coneflowers can also be pruned in the summer. Pruning, meanwhile, does not appear the same in the summer as it does in the spring or fall. When you prune in the summer, it is more akin to “dead heading” and bouquet-making trimming. Unlike in the fall or spring, you won’t want to completely prune your plant.

In order to deadhead your coneflowers in the summer, you must remove bloom-expiring flowers. Deadheading is frequently done to maintain the plant’s appearance, stop seed production, and promote new blooms on the plant.

Did you know that cutting the flowers will increase the amount of blooming in many coneflower species? It’s true that cutting your flowers to enjoy indoors can frequently lead to even more blooms all summer long. So pull out the scissors and enjoy the lovely blooms both inside and outside.