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Echinacea purpurea

Common Name: Coneflower   


Botanical Name:  Echinacea spp.  


E. angustifolia, E. atrorubens, E. laevigata, E. pallida, E. paradoxa, E. purpurea, E. sanguinea, E. simulata, and E. tennesseensis.


Native American Lakota Name:  Ichahpe hu. 


AKA:  Purple Coneflower, Snakeroot


Family:  Asteraceae


Origin:  Native to Eastern and Central North America.  The above species can be found in almost all states. 


Morphology: Stiff, tall, erect stems.  The leaves are dark green, oblong- lanceolate with tiny hairs.  Veins are deep and predominate.  I have noticed the leaves on the lower portion of the plant (older leaves) become larger with age.  As for flowers, the center disk holds the actual reproductive structures, and the colorful petals (ray) surrounding the center may serve to attract pollinators and allow a place for them to land and sit while collecting nectar. Flowers unfold from a cup shape to flat, then as they mature and seeds begin to develop, the disk begins to mound upward into the shape that may resemble a pinecone and the ray petals fold straight down the ground. Roots of E. angustifolia have been preferred for medicine making.  The roots grow more as a tap root, but E. purpurea is just as good and easier to grow or obtain.  Their roots are more like a large fibrous root. 


Description:  A perennial plant growing up to 4 feet tall. 


Habitat:  Was a common native prairie plant that has been over harvested so you rarely see it in its native habitat.  Prefers full sun and tolerates sandy dry soil.


Growing:  Echinacea purpurea is most widely grown as a perennial plant in the garden.  Allow space for mature size of about 1–2-foot square.  Full sun preferred but will tolerate some shade.  You may notice less flowering.  Once established, this plant will tolerate dry soil.  This is an important pollinator plant for birds and butterflies.  You can collect seeds (nutlets) from the flower heads in late fall or allow them to drop and spread.  I am growing E. angustifolia, which isn’t as vigorous, and have yet felt the need to harvest any for this reason.  I have unsuccessfully grown E. pallida and E. tennesseensis in Northern Michigan.  There are many cultivars now available of Echinacea purpurea with a wide range of colors, yellow, oranges, reds and purples.  I consider these more ornamental than medicinal and have yet to see any research, but have been told any echinacea spp. will work and be effective.  They are a gorgeous in the garden. 

Echinacea in herbal bouquets

Parts Used:  Roots are most used for medicinal purposes, but flowers and leaves are also collected and used.  The petals make a visually appealing tisane. Echinacea is also a beautiful cut flower.


Harvest:  Only harvest cultivated species.  Never harvest from the wild.  Harvest three year old roots in the fall.  Flowers and leaves can be harvested throughout the years during their peak time. 


Taste/Uses:  Sweet, cold, diffusive (tingling), stimulating.  I have found it more of a numbing than tingling effect on my tongue with a hint of an earthy flavor.  Echinacea helps ease sore throats. 


Farm Notes: Not only has it been a favorite perennial in my garden for as long as I can remember, but this is also the first plant that I connected to as an herbalist and was the first plant I tinctured.  I love the daisy shaped flowers with purple ray petals. Visually stunning to me in the pollinator habitat, as well as any of the gardens around the farm or my home.   I cultivate both E. angustifolia and E. purpurea.


Echinacea growing at Heartwood Forest Farm

Constituents:  Volatile, oil, glycoside, echinaceine, phenolics


Actions:  Anti-microbial, alterative, anti-catarrhal, tonic, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, stimulates saliva, helpful for treating allergies and asthma. Research has shown that there is an increase in white blood cells and their strength of action 3 Native American uses by Camanche for toothache and sore throat, Sioux used herb for rabies, snake bites and septic conditions 3 Only supportive of traditional uses-not those of “armchair Western herbal experts” that promote it as an “immune stimulant” 5


Energetics: Cooling


Preparation and Dosage:  Decoction: prepare 1-2 tsp roots in 1 c. water, slowly simmer 10-15 minutes and drink 3 x day.  I make and prefer a tincture: 1-4 mL 3 x day.  I only take 1 x day for 2 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off (this is what I was taught years ago). Capsules can be made of powdered root for colds 500mg 3 x day. 


Combinations:  Combines well with goldenseal


Cautions: I knew someone that told me they experienced headaches. If you have any sensitives or allergies to plants in the Asteraceae family I would use caution.


References-These are references used in my herbal studies. I'm sure that throughout my learning about echinacea, there have been others.

1.     The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman

2.     The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman

3.     The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH

4.     The Earthwise Herbal Vol.1 by Matthew Wood

5.     The Earthwise Herbal Vol 2 by Matthew Wood

6.     A Modern Herbal Vol 1 (A-H) by Margaret Grieve

7.     A Modern Herbal Vol 2 (I-Z) by Margaret Grieve

8.     The Herb Book by John Lust


Native American Legends About Coneflowers

The purple coneflower, also known by its Latin name Echinacea, is a native wildflower of North America known to many different American Indian tribes. In Western tribes like the Ute, coneflowers are associated with elk and called by the name "elk root," due to the belief that wounded elk seek them out as medicine. Coneflower roots were used as traditional healing herbs by many tribes, especially in the Great Plains and Midwest, to treat many types of swelling, burns, and pain. Coneflower has also been chewed ritually during sweatlodge ceremonies and the Sundance. The coneflower is considered one of the sacred Life Medicines of the Navajo tribe.

This Materia Medica, written by myself, during a time of study growing the plant and/or gathering of information. I will cite any direct quotes where needed. You may also do the same for your study, and please give credit where credit is due. It may also include questions that may have arisen during my study.

Angelica Angelica archangelica

aka Angelica officinalis

Angelica atropurpurea has been used in place. It is a N American native plant. Is called “Bear Medicine” by indigenous cultures.

DO NOT confuse with Chinese angelica Angelica sinensis

Family: Apiaceae

Origin: Northern Europe (Seria? But moved to cooler European climates) Norway, Sweden, Finland indigenous cultures?

Description/Morphology: Biennial can grow up 6 ft tall hollow stems

Habitat: Found near damp sites with running H2O. At my farm I provide consistent irrigation.

Growing: Seeds should be fresh and will need cold-moist stratification. I like to sow seeds in February in a flat then allow them to sit outside over the winter. You can also sow seeds in the autumn, which will naturally allow them to experience the temperature fluctuations needed.

Parts Used: The stems and seeds are used for confectionary (candied is French tradition?). Roots and leaves for medicine (this is NOT Osha, which is what I believe Mathew Wood is talking about. Osha is the bear medicine plant). Roots are used for gin and other alcohols.

Harvest: Harvest leaves and stems early summer. Gather roots in the fall of year 1. Seeds will be produced in year two. Flattened dried roots are how it is sold in the medicinal marketplace. I have harvested roots, chopped and dehydrated 125 degrees for 12 hours.

Taste/Uses: Expectorant for coughs. Digestif. Eases rheumatic inflammation. Bitter, sweet, oily, warming, stimulating. Burning roots for aromatic and dream work. Pungent. Helps stop smoking or drinking alcohol as it changes their taste. Tea calms nerves and helps in moments of cravings, per Matthew Wood who recommends 1 tsp macerated root in 1 cup water. Allow to sit overnight, strain, and drink 1/3 before each meal *SEE ABOVE NOTE

September 2023, I harvested a stem and licked it (the cut end) and turpentine flavor, which I am thinking would be the pinene. It wasn’t very pleasant. Will candy some to see how this turns out. I’m curious to learn if it has different flavors throughout the season. Also the root flavor.

Constituents: essential oils including phellandrene (a and b) and pinene, angelica acid, coumarin, bitter principal, tannin.

Actions: Carminative, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic, aromatic, pectoral, stimulant, tonic, warming, improves blood flow.

Energetics: warm moist

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

As I prepare my seasonal fire cider, I’m reminiscent of the growing season. Sowing seeds, hands dirty in the cool soil, harvesting, warming sunrays on my face, the smell of the herbs as I brush by, experiencing the “wild LIFE” that exists, seen or unseen, flying, nesting, foraging, hunting or sipping nectar from flowers. I have always enjoyed being to be able to create nourishing products for my family, friends, and community. It takes practice, time, and presence to grow the plants that are nutritious and taste good. It takes a conscious mind to embrace plant spirit.

Fire Cider is a traditional remedy made by infusing apple cider vinegar with a blend of warming roots and herbs, then sweetened with honey. It can be taken when you are feeling symptoms of colds, congestion, or overall sinus issues. Small amounts taken may support your digestive and circulatory systems. It can also be considered a type of oxymel, which is a vinegar herbal infusion beverage, sweetened with honey. You can also use it as a delicious, warming salad dressing by mixing with olive oil.

This recipe has been adapted from the many fire cider recipes throughout history and our experience here at Heartwood Forest Farm.

INGREDIENTS raw apple cider vinegar 1 part onion 1/2 part garlic 1/2 part horseradish root 1/2 part ginger 1/4 part cayenne additional herbs of your choice (I like rosemary, sage and thyme) local honey to taste Parts can be more or less. Organic when possible!

DIRECTIONS 1. Finely chop all roots and place in glass jar. A mason jar works well, any size (use proportions to jar) 2. Chop herbs of your choice. These can be leaves or berries with the properties or flavors you would like to add to your finished fire cider 3. Add raw apple cider vinegar, enough to cover everything and top with a lid 4. Allow to infuse 4-6 weeks, turning daily and admiring, while sharing your positive energy 5. Strain, add your desired amount of honey, store in the refrigerator or cool place

Monographs for our Fire Cider Ingredients: A Condensed Version

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Anti-bacterial, probiotic, considered a food, 5% acidity

Onion Allium cepa Family: Amaryllidaceae

Energetics: warming & drying

Circulatory stimulant

Contains quercetin, a flavonoid with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.

Garlic Allium sativum Family: Amaryllidaceae

Energetics: warming & drying

Circulatory stimulant


Horseradish Amoracia rusticana Family: Brassicacea

Energetics: warming & drying

Stimulant, expectorant, diaphoretic, diuretic

Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory

Ginger Zingiber officinale Family: Zingiberaceae

Energetics: FRESH hot & drying DRIED warming & drying

Circulatory stimulant and relieves congestion.


Cayenne Capsicum annuum Family: Solanaceae

Energetics: very warming & drying

Circulatory stimulant, expectorant, aids in digestion

Rosemary Salvia Rosmarinus Family: Lamiaceae

Energetics: warming & drying

Circulatory stimulant


Sage Salvia officinalis Family: Lamiaceae

Energetics: warming & drying

Circulatory stimulant

Astringent, antimicrobial

Thyme Thymus vulgaris Family: Lamiaceae

Energetics: hot & dry

Circulatory stimulant


Natural sweetener

Antibacterial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory

Supports the energetic function of the stomach and lungs.

Contains pollen and nectar as well as spirit magic from local plants.

Did you come to a conclusion about the energetics of the plants? Be sure to consider your energetics. Fire Cider is a perfect remedy when you begin to feel cold and damp. This is something every home should have in the refrigerator like any other condiment!

Enjoy this book for more ideas! Fire Cider!: 101 Zesty Recipes for Health-Boosting Remedies Made with Apple Cider Vinegar by Rosemary Gladstar where many other herbalists share their recipes and you can learn about their fight to save the term Fire Cider from trademark.

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