Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Echinacea, Echinacea Augustifolia / Echinacea Purpurea (Medicinal Herbs)

Echinacea commonly called the Purple coneflowers, is a genus of nine species of herbaceous plants in the Family Asteraceae. All are strictly native to eastern and central North America.

The plants have large showy heads of composite flowers, blooming from early to late summer. Some species are used in herbal medicines.

The genus name is from the Greek echino, meaning "spiny", due to the spiny central disk. They are herbaceous, drought-tolerant perennial plants growing to 1 or 2 m in height. The leaves are lanceolate to elliptic, 10–20 cm long and 1.5–10 cm broad. Like all Asteraceae, the flowers are a composite inflorescence, with purple (rarely yellow or white) florets arranged in a prominent, somewhat cone-shaped head; "cone-shaped" because the petals of the outer ray florets tend to point downward (are reflexed) once the flower head opens, thus forming a cone.

Echinacea purpurea

The species of Echinacea are:
* Echinacea angustifolia - Narrow-leaf Coneflower
* Echinacea atrorubens - Topeka Purple Coneflower
* Echinacea laevigata - Smooth Coneflower, Smooth Purple Coneflower
* Echinacea pallida - Pale Purple Coneflower
* Echinacea paradoxa - Yellow Coneflower, Bush's Purple Coneflower
* Echinacea purpurea - Purple Coneflower, Eastern Purple Coneflower
* Echinacea sanguinea - Sanguine purple coneflower
* Echinacea simulata - Wavyleaf Purple Coneflower
* Echinacea tennesseensis - Tennessee Coneflower

Medical Uses

Echinacea may, in addition to common cold, be useful when treating Athlete's foot with
Econazole, or in cancer treatment.

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