For over 33 years, I have been cultivating hundreds of Echinacea purpurea plants in Avena’s garden. There are nine different Echinacea species native to the prairies, Appalachia, and the Midwest. Echinacea purpurea is the more eastern species and the one I have found easiest to grow in Maine. I call Echinacea the bridging herb because, for many people, it is the first healing herb they have ever tried as a tincture or tea to support their immune system.
During my teenage years, I was taught by a few old and wise herbalists that the care and respect offered to an herb while growing, gathering, and preparing it into an herbal remedy is essential for the herb to be truly healing. This is one of the most valuable teachings I received over forty years ago and one that has stayed in my heart, and hands, all these years.
Gathering Echinacea purpurea flowers, commonly called purple cone flowers, is a garden task I look forward to every summer. The top of each cone flower has a spiral pattern that is surrounded by tiny yellow florets with pollen. There is something special about the spiral pattern on these flowers that year after year beckons me to pause and spend time gazing into these magnificent flowers. Beloved by bees, butterflies, herbalists and gardeners alike, this perennial is worthy of growing, sitting near, and smelling when flowering.