Wild Echinacea   Leave a comment

 Wild Echinacea, E. angustifolia (photo below) and garden Echinacea, E.  purpurea (above photo) differ much the same as a salon hair-do would look different in town as opposed to taking your fancy coiffure on a camping trip!  Out in the field, the thick mane of pink petals, sported by up-town Echinacea, becomes a free-flowing fringe of wildness.

Echinacea angustifolia, commonly known as Purple Coneflower, is a perennial, in the daisy family, Asteraceae. Growing up to 3 feet tall, they are found through-out eastern and central North America, in moist to dry conditions and open wooded areas.

Wild Echinacea sports erect to prostrate, hairy, un-branched stems.

Echinacea leaves are, also, hairy, with a rough texture, lance shaped, arranged alternately and decrease in size as they come up the stem.

 The large, showy heads of composite flowers, bloom through-out the summer season. The purple, yellow and green, cone-shaped, spines in the center of the head give Echinacea its generic name; from the Greek, echino, meaning hedgehog and its common name, Purple Cone Flower.

New Echinacea plants will grow where seeds heads have fallen from the prior year.  Therefore, I usually take the petals (in summer), or roots (in the fall) and leave the spikes, where I found them.  This year I brought home a few whole flower-heads to spread the seeds in different, appropriate locations. At the time, I didn’t know I would be moving into the “Knotweed Forest”. Some of the seed heads were placed in and around my new, little slice of heaven.  The remaining seed heads have gone to two of my favorite foraging locations; where they should make a welcome, native addition; and hopefully help fight back the plethora of invading foreign species, taking over the area.

After fully drying, all of the Echinacea petals I gathered (about 1 cup, dry) went into my Flower Petal Tea blend; a lovely cup of spicy sunshine, even on the dankest days!

Flower Petal Tea:

1 cup, each, dry: Rose, Rosa spp. petals, Echinacea, E. angustifolia  petals, Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale petals, Red Clover, Trifolium pratense petals, and Goldenrod, Solidago odora flowers

1 dozen-ish star anise

2 tablespoons whole cloves

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a clean, dry, air-tight jar.  Seal and shake.  Leave the jar, sealed, for a week to develop the flavor.

Steep 1 heaping teaspoonful in 6 – 8 oz. boiling water, for 10 minutes; then strain.  Add a teaspoonful of good local honey and/or a slice of lemon and enjoy.

Wikipedia provides a good explanation as to why NOT to buy over the counter herbal preparations and why medical research is unreliable, at best, “Marketed and studied medicinal products contain different species (E. purpurea, E. angustifolia, E. pallida), different organs (roots and herbs) and different preparations (extracts and expressed juice). Their chemical composition is very different. As with any herbal preparation, individual doses may vary significantly in active chemical composition. In addition to poor process control which may affect inter- and intra-batch homogeneity, species, plant part, extraction method, and contamination or adulteration with other products all lead to variability between products.” (1)

This quality control issue complicates and often negates clinical research.  So, how do I know what’s good to use?  Simple! I learn the plant, from a distance and up close enough to get inside its head.  I learn to spot my plant from 10 yards away, 20 yards, even; and be right, every time.  I study, until I am able to remember EVERY part’s characteristics.  I learn the chemical compounds each plant offers and how active ingredients vary from leaf to bud to root to stem to juice to flower, to seed, to fruit to catkin to cone; and the most advantageous time to harvest for effectiveness and concentration.  Simple!

 Historically, Echinacea angustifolia was used by the First People, of North America; who, legend has it, realized its medicinal value by watching sick or wounded elk eating the plant, and, therefore, named it Elk Root. (1)  Elk were wise to take advantage of Echinacea’s alterative, anti-allergenic, anti-biotic, anti-catarral, anti-microbial, immune stimulant and lymphatic tonic actions. (3 & 4)

In “Medicine Grove”, Lauren Cruden writes, “Echinacea asserts integrity amid negative influences, affirming the strength of natural, harmonious function.” (2)  This is a great explanation as to how, not just Echinacea acts, but how all the tonic herbs act.

In his “Holistic Herbal”, David Hoffman states, “Echinacea is the prime remedy to help the body rid itself of microbial infections.” (3)

Echinacea can interact with Cancer Chemotherapy. (5)

On the “Our Sunday Guest” page (up top), please find and enjoy a long, detailed, educational, enlightening, wonderful article on Echinacea; along with permission to reprint it; you will be glad you read it!:

Echinacea: a Miracle Herb against Aging and Cancer? Evidence In vivo in Mice, by Sandra C. Miller, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (6)

 Just click on any photo to enlarge for greater detail.

Thanx for stopping by.  See you soon. 

Please stop by, tomorrow for “Our Sunday Guest”, Mark Berkery.

REFERENCES:

 (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echinacea

(2) MEDICINE GROVE,  A SHAMANIC HERBAL, Loren Cruden. 

     Destiny Books.  1997

(3) THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED HOLISTIC HERBAL, David Hoffman. 

      Element Books.  1996

(4) The COMPLETE MEDICINAL HERBAL, Penelope Ody.   

      Dorling Kindersley Books.  1993

 (5) A-Z guide to drug-herb-vitamin interactions, Schuyler W. Lininger, Jr. DC, editor in chief

      Prima Health, 1999.

(6) https://forageporage.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/our-sunday-guest-sandra-miller-with-echinacea-a-miracle-herb/

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