It’s winter again and we’re coughing and sneezing. At this time of year, you also discover echinacea preparations, whether from A. Vogel or Phytopharma, which are supposed to help against colds. You can find out what this medicinal plant is all about in this article. 

After the basics, I go into the cultivation and then the healing effects and application. I also explain how to make your own tincture and syrup.

Introduce yourself to the most important basics first

The coneflower originally came to Europe from the prairies of North America. Echinacea purpurea is also known as „red coneflower“ or „purple coneflower“. The botanical name Echinacea is derived from the Greek word „echinos“, which means hedgehog. The flower of the plant resembles a hedgehog. (Rawer, A.Vogel)

It is a perennial with a growth height of up to 100 cm. A perennial (these plants live for several years and do not die after one year), with soft, herbaceous parts above ground rather than woody ones (Wikipedia). The coneflower belongs to the composite family. These are characterized by their ray and tubular flowers.

Do you know the tubular and ray florets?

The ray and tubular flowers are found in the Asteraceae plant family. So the flower you seem to see actually consists of two different flowers. On the inside are the tubular flowers and on the outside are the ray florets.

(Monning & Schmidt,2022)

How to grow Echinacea purpurea successfully

Seeds can be sown from November in pots or trays or from March-June directly into the open ground in a sheltered spot. Cover the seed only very thinly. Plant out at intervals of 40 cm in the final location by mid-October at the latest (seed moulting).

The medicinal plant needs semi-shady to sunny conditions and the soil should be gravelly to loamy, so work in gravel. The soil moisture is best moderately dry to fresh. The pH value can be slightly alkaline to slightly acidic and the plant is also lime-tolerant. Echinacea purpurea likes nutrient-rich, humus-rich soil.

The above-ground parts of the plant freeze in winter, but Echinacea purpurea reliably sprouts again in spring. (Monning & Schmidt, 2022)

(Samen Mauser)  (Monning & Schmidt, 2022)

What can you combine Echinacea purpurea in the garden with?

Take the quiz 🙂

Purple loosestrife

Wolfsbane

Phlox

Goldenrods

Lily

Veronica

Sanguisorba

Echinops

(Cznottka, 2023) (Gütt, 2023)

Healing effect of Echinacea pururea

Even the Indians saw the plant as antiseptic, i.e. effective against germs. Today, many preparations against colds contain parts of this plant.

The herb and the roots are used. The ingredients are essential oils, echinacein, caffeic acid esters (chicory acid), amino acids, fatty acids and high-molecular polysaccharides. The chicory acid and polysaccharides contribute to the non-specific immune defense by promoting the number of granulocytes and the phagocytosis activity of macrophages.

Internally, the herb is good for the supportive treatment of respiratory and urinary tract infections. Externally, preparations help with superficial wounds.

(Institut für pharmazeutische Wissenschaften)