Herbal spotlight: Echinacea (purple Coneflower)

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Bumble bee on one of our Echinacea blooms.

Here at Whimsical Moon Farm, we grow many of the herbs that we use in our handcrafted soaps. We also grow herbs for culinary uses, health and healing, and for the pollinators. We enjoy attracting honey bees, butterflies, and many different bird species. Among the herbs you can find in our gardens, we grow sage, rosemary, oregano, parsley, thyme, chamomile, lavender (lots!), and Echinacea.

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Echinacea purpurea flower with butterfly.

One of my favorite herbs is Echinacea purpurea and E. angustifolia. It loves the sun and is a native wildflower here in the United States. Not only does it produce beautiful flowers that attract all types of pollinators, but it is an excellent support for the body’s immunity. Tinctured roots and teas made from its leaves and stem help strengthen the body’s ability to resist infection.

With flu season upon us, I always try to have on hand Echinacea capsules, teas containing Echinacea, and lots of tincture from last Fall’s root harvest. At the first sign of a tickle in my throat or a drippy nose, I begin taking the capsules as directed on the bottle or dosing myself with a dropper-full of tincture with each meal. (Dose 1 – 3 ml, up to 5 times a day.)

The roots of the plant can be harvested around the second or third year. I usually take a piece or two off of each plant in the Fall when I divide the root clumps. The fresh root can be chopped up and placed in a pint or quart mason jar. I cover the root pieces with 80 proof, or higher, Vodka making sure the pieces are completely covered. I cap the jar tightly and store in a cupboard, away from sunlight. I try to give the jar a shake each day for 14 to 21 days. When it’s time to decant, I pour the liquid through cheese cloth into a clean bowl, making sure to press the remaining pulp to get all of the good medicine.

I prefer storing the tincture in small brown or blue bottles with dropper caps. These can be purchased from many sources, but I usually get mine from Mountain Rose HerbsBe sure to cap tightly and label with what the tincture is and when it was bottled. The shelf life for the tincture is 1 to 3 years, but many herbalists believe it stays good for many years, if kept tightly capped and stored in a cool, dark place.

I often dry the flowers to use in my handcrafted soaps as they add beautiful bits of color to the bars. But more often than not, I allow the flowers to remain on the plant for the butterflies and bees flitting around the gardens in the Fall to enjoy.

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Echinacea purpurea

May this season be a healthy and vibrant time of year for you!

Please check out our handcrafted soaps at Whimsical Moon Farm.

 

 

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