[Native to the dry prairies of the central U.S. This species has a long history of medicinal use starting with the Native American tribes of the Great Plains.] The plants are the smallest of the echinaceas (8-18 in.) and the spreading pink ray petals are the shortest (¾-13⁄8 in. long) The leaves are long and narrow as is characteristic of many drought tolerant species. Pkt (0.2 g, 52 seeds)
Culture: Perennial in zones 3-9. Stratify for 90-120 days at 40°F. Transplant or direct seed. Full sun. 24-36 in. tall. All Echinaceas are drought resistant. Keep young plants well weeded. Germination is typically around 50% and all species except E. purpurea require stratification (a period of moist pre-chilling) to break seed dormancy. Seeds may be stratified by sowing in flats or pots in a cold frame over the winter, or a refrigerator for 2-4 months, depending on the species. As little as 3 weeks of stratification will give some germination. Medicinal: All 9 species are medicinally important, and all parts of the plant have some activity. Several pharmacological studies have demonstrated immuno-stimulant, bacteriostatic, and anti-viral activity. It may be used as an anti-microbial anywhere in the body. It activates macrophages, increases white blood cell levels, and inhibits microbial hyaluronidase (an enzyme that causes host cells to break down.) Echinacea is often used as a short term immune stimulant (2 weeks maximum), but it is contraindicated in autoimmune system disorders and progressive diseases.