Echinacea purpurea ‘Alba’
A drought resistant perennial herb in the daisy family, native to the midwestern region of North America. The tall stems bear single white flowers, and have a central brown cone that gives the plant its name – Echinacea comes from the Greek word echinos meaning hedgehog or sea-urchin. The plants are also known as Coneflowers. Of the ten or so species, E. purpurea is the only one with a fibrous rather than tap root.
The plants are very attractive to bees and the seed heads provide good bird food in autumn to winter. The flowers are also good cut for the vase, fresh or dried.
Medicinally, it is one of the best detoxicants known in western herbal medicine for the circulatory, lymphatic and respiratory systems and its uses are documented back to the 1600s. The plant increases bodily resistance to infection and acts as a blood purifier. It was used by the Native American Indians to treat all types of insect and snake bites and stings, wounds and burns as well as for toothaches, throat infections, coughs and stomach cramps.
Echinacea contains several chemicals that play a role in its therapeutic effects. These include polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides, volatile oils, and flavonoids. The chemicals contained in the root differ considerably from those in the upper part of the plant. For example, the roots have high concentrations of volatile oils (odorous compounds) while the above-ground parts of the plant tend to contain more polysaccharides (substances known to trigger the activity of the immune system). The combination of these active substances is responsible for echinacea’s beneficial effects, though research suggests that the above ground portion is the most effective. Roots of established plants can be dug up in autumn, washed and chopped, and made into a tincture.
Echinacea thrives in full to partial sun. In their native habitat plants can be found along the edges of woodlands, so they will thrive in spots with morning shade and afternoon sun or vice versa. They will tolerate poor stoney soil but not badly drained soil. Height to 130cm when in flower.
9cm pot. Certified organic plant.
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