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Herb of the week for 9th Febuary
By Lynn Kirkland

Excellent Echinacea


By Lynn Kirkland


Herb of the Week for 9th Feb

Excellent Echinacea

Echinacea in full bloom is stunning. It attracts the eye of not only the garden visitor but the attention of the bees and butterflies. The attraction for our winged friends is the lure of the nectar. To a gardener it is the fabulous colour and form of the plant. As a herbalist the attraction is the incredible healing in this herb and the only drawback in all of this is that I harvest the flowering tops when they are at their peak of perfection.
The flowering tops are infused in a high proof alcohol medium to extract the powerful constituents. This is a process that takes a few weeks and then it can be bottled as echinacea tincture which is used to give your immune system a boost when feeling under the weather or coming down with colds or flu.
We also use echinacea in a cream to help with itchy skin problems and it has proven to be very effective.
Echinacea purpurea is the variety in the photo and is available in garden centres and nurseries and is an easy herb to grow. It is a perennial so once you have it; the plant will increase in size each year.
If you have an established clump of echinacea you can divide it to increase the number of plants you have. This is best done in the autumn or very early spring.
It is a native plant of North America where it grew wild on the plains and the American Indians used it for everything from colds to snakebites.
It is drought tolerant so once it is established just let the heavens do the watering.
As a cut flower it lasts a long time in a vase and there is a white variety available called White Swan Echinacea. This would not have the same healing as the purple one but will look great in the garden.


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