Echinacea Purpurea or purple coneflower is a plant native to North America and specifically discovered in the United States. It is a wildflower that became close to the heart of many gardeners all over because of its gorgeous flowers and many herbal benefits. Being easy to grow, purple coneflower is now available all over the world in different cultivars and colors.
An Overview of Purple Coneflower Plants
The name purple coneflower is a suitable name for some plants that belong to the Echinacea species although not all have purple blooms. The plants have become victims to incorrect botanical classification that only got revealed recently because of DNA testing. Improper placement is among the common facts on heirloom flower that affect a lot of families and species. Originally a part of the Rudbeckia family, there is still existing older literature where purple coneflower is listed under that family instead of the correct family of Echinacea.
The coneflowers are included in the Asteraceae family with the unique rayed flowers of this group. Echinacea, the name of the genus, comes from “chinos,” a Greek word that means hedgehog. It is because of the prickly crown of the seeds that the flowers left behind. This perennial rhizomous plant can reach a height of 11 up to 60 inches.
These flowers are purple, sterile, and rayed with flowers of orange color as the center disc. These plants are heaven for bees, butterflies, flies, and even hummingbirds.
The History of Purple Coneflowers
It was during the 17th century when Echinacea Purpurea’s history started in a forest located in the southeastern US. Back then, John Banister was busy in studying Virginia’s native flower when he stumbled upon the beautiful blooms. In 1969, he decided to harvest the seeds then sent these to England where this plant became a staple in the European gardens during the later part of the 1800s.
Different kinds of flower power occurred during the 1960s with the German botanists started improving on the species and expanding the cultivars that are available. Echinacea didn’t rise to recognition until the 1980s. It bagged the Perennial Plant of the Year prize in 1998.
Today, purple coneflowers have become a favorite plant in many gardens because of the intense breeding programs made based on the theory about Echinacea’s ability to cross with the rest of the plants that are part of genus. It paved way to the creation of orange, yellow, and white flowers that used to be unknown in this group. Double flowering varieties were also made. You can be sure that there will always be a beautiful cultivar that you will surely love to add to your own garden.
Health Benefits of the Beautiful Purple Coneflowers
Echinacea Purpurea has a very long history as a form of herbal treatment. It was known that American Indians used the plant as treatment for different ailments way before the western settlers started to use it during the 1800s. Thanks to its long years of usage, researchers studied this herb for many decades with varied result. Here are some of the touted benefits of purple coneflowers.
Echinacea, that you can buy at online store Vegamega, has been known to be an effective booster of the immune system that helps prevent flu and cold. But, the evidence to support the claims is not yet enough. In 2014, weak evidence was found to support the effectiveness of the herb when it comes to the treatment and prevention of flu and colds. Another study revealed that the plant may also reduce the severity and duration of colds as compared to the placebo. However, it was noted that these were not clinically substantial effects.
Potential Side Effects
Research reveals that Echinacea can be considered as safe for many people even though there are some who might experience some side effects like nausea, stomach pain, dizziness, and headache. During rare cases, some severe allergic reactions might even occur, particularly in people who are allergic to daisies, marigolds, mums, and ragweed. People who take immunosuppressant medications, have asthma or allergies, are using tamoxifen, are undergoing eyelid surgery, and are nursing or pregnant, should avoid using Echinacea.
The plant might also interfere with certain medications. Always consult your doctor in case you are managing a certain medical condition or you are taking medications for it to ensure that it is safe to use the plant.
Preparations and Dosage
There is no suggested daily allowance when it comes to the use of Echinacea. This is being sold in teas, tinctures, and capsules. You can also buy loose leaf tea bags or tea in most health food shops and online stores. Below are the steps for preparing loose leaf tea made from Echinacea.
- Put the leaves, roots, and flowers of the plant in the teacup. Make sure that all the parts are clean and free from dirt.
- Boil some water and allow it to sit for 1 minute to slightly lower the temperature.
- Pour 8 ounces of this water over the parts of the plant.
- Allow the tea steep for as long as you want. Steeping often takes longer compared to traditional teas that can take as much as 15 minutes.
- Strain the tea to remove the leaves, roots, and flowers.
- Flavor to taste before you drink it. You can add ginger, honey, and other types of flavor enhancements. You can also experiment with various flavors to achieve the combination you enjoy.
How to Shop for Echinacea Supplements
Many studies that look into the effectiveness of Echinacea Purpurea usually use the extract taken from the herb and not the tea. Sadly, consumers are not able to verify the effectiveness or integrity of teas or herbal supplements that they buy from stores.
When choosing a brand of teas or supplements, always look for those legit and certified products to guarantee safe and good results.
The Echinacea Purpurea is more than being a pretty flower. As research studies continue to discover its benefits, it is expected to become more popular and in demand in the near future.