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Purple Coneflower

Echinacea (Coneflower) Seeds | Johnny's Selected Seeds
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Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Echinacea purpurea, also called Purple Coneflower, is one of the most widely cultivated medicinal plants in the US (Ross, 2016) and Europe (Barrett, 2003). It is a tall perennial member of the Composite family indigenous to eastern and central North America. This plant is used to treat  common diseases, such as colds, flu, and upper respiratory infections (Ross, 2016). Modern analyses of the Echinacea genus have suggested it may have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties (Sharifi-Rad et al., 2018). However, studies examining the effectiveness of Echinacea purpurea in preventing or treating the common cold have had mixed results (Grimm & Müller, 1999; Ross, 2016) and the most recent systematic review failed to find any statistically significant benefit to the treatment (Karsch-Völk et al., 2014). It is generally considered non or only very slightly toxic (Sharifi-Rad et al., 2018).  

Historical Use

Given that Purple Coneflower is native to such a wide swath of North America, it should come as no surprise that the earliest knowledge of its medicinal properties was attained by Native Americans.  The Choctaw used Echinacea purpurea for treating coughs, stomach upset, and sore throats (Flannery, 1999). The Sioux used it for treating wounds and snakebite and as a cure for rabies (Ross, 2016). The Cheyenne used preparations to treat colds and skin conditions (Flannery, 1999). Early settlers to the Midwest also used Echinacea to treat saddle sores on horses (Flannery, 1999). 

More information available from the John R. Martin Rare Book Room in Hardin Library.

Latest Research


Barrett, B. (2003). Medicinal properties of Echinacea: a critical review. Phytomedicine, 10(1), 66-86. doi:10.1078/094471103321648692 

Flannery, M. A. (1999). From Rudbeckia to Echinacea: The Emergence of the Purple Cone Flower in Modern Therapeutics. Pharmacy in History, 41(2), 52-59. Retrieved from 

Grimm, W., & Müller, H. H. (1999). A randomized controlled trial of the effect of fluid extract of Echinacea purpurea on the incidence and severity of colds and respiratory infections. Am J Med, 106(2), 138-143. doi:10.1016/s0002-9343(98)00406-9 

Karsch-Völk, M., Barrett, B., Kiefer, D., Bauer, R., Ardjomand-Woelkart, K., & Linde, K. (2014). Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2(2), Cd000530. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000530.pub3 

Ross, S. M. (2016). Echinacea purpurea: A Proprietary Extract of Echinacea purpurea Is Shown to be Safe and Effective in the Prevention of the Common Cold. Holist Nurs Pract, 30(1), 54-57. doi:10.1097/hnp.0000000000000130 

Sharifi-Rad, M., Mnayer, D., Morais-Braga, M. F. B., Carneiro, J. N. P., Bezerra, C. F., Coutinho, H. D. M., . . . Sharifi-Rad, J. (2018). Echinacea plants as antioxidant and antibacterial agents: From traditional medicine to biotechnological applications. Phytother Res, 32(9), 1653-1663. doi:10.1002/ptr.6101