[Native to open woods and rocky prairies from NE Texas to central Illinois.] Drooping flower petals are 1½-3½ in. long and may range in color from pink, purple, or white, but are typically rosy purple, with a purple-brown flower disc. Long, narrow leaves. 18-36 in. tall. Medicinal, drought-tolerant plant. Pkt (0.2 g, 42 seeds)
Culture: Perennial in zones 3-9. Stratify for 60 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.
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