The genus Echinacea is represented by about 10 botanical species: Echinacea pale, Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea narrowifolia, Echinacea tennessian, Echinacea paradoxical, Echinacea bloody, Echinacea simulating, Echinacea dark red, Echinacea dark red, Echinacea dark red. The most studied species is the species Echinacea purpurea.
Description of Echinacea
Echinacea purpurea - This is a perennial herbaceous medicinal plant of the aster family. The stems are simple, upright. The height of the stems is from 60 to 100 cm. Under favorable conditions, the height of the stems of echinacea reaches one and a half meters. The roots are branched with numerous processes penetrating the soil by 25 cm.
The leaves of the plant are broad-lanceolate, collected by the rosette, basal on long petioles, and the stem leaves are short-leaved. It blooms all summer, pleasing to the eye with its bright flowers. Fruits - brown tetrahedral achenes 5-6 mm long.
Inflorescences in the form of baskets are 10-12 cm in diameter and are located in the axils of the upper leaves and at the top of the stem. In inflorescences, the flowers are dark or light purple. Between small tubular flowers on the receptacle, dark-colored sharp and prickly bracts are located.
Europeans learned about this plant after the discovery of America. In North America, Echinacea grows on the prairies and along the sandy banks of rivers. Secondary ranges of Echinacea species are located in Europe: in the UK, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Belgium, Germany, Holland, France, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Greece, Poland. And also in the countries of the Eurasian continent: Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova, the Republic of Belarus, in the central regions of Russia, the North Caucasus, the Urals, Bashkiria and the Primorsky Territory. Echinacea species are also cultivated in Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, northern Africa, and Egypt.
Echinacea is grown in open ground in flowerbeds, in curbs and mixborders as cut flowers. Plants are planted in the ground at the end of spring at a distance of 50-60 cm from each other.
They prefer soils rich in organic matter, not acidic, not moist. At the end of spring - in the summer, every 30-40 days, complex mineral fertilizer in the amount of 20 g per bucket is added to water for irrigation. During the growing season, flower stalks with withered flowers are removed to stimulate the formation of new flowers and thus lengthen the flowering period.
Location: Ideal place in the open sun, but echinacea also tolerates partial shade.
Temperature: Echinacea is resistant to high and low air temperatures.
Watering: On hot days with the wind and during droughts, water regularly, preferably in the early morning or late afternoon.
Maintaining appearance: Remove faded peduncles and damaged parts of plants.
Breeding: Propagated mainly seed. Sown in the spring in greenhouses or in the open ground. Seedlings usually bloom in the 2nd year.
Dividing the bush (in autumn or spring) rarely propagate, since the base of the stem and shoots quickly lignifies, and rooting is slow and difficult.
Propagation of Echinacea by Seeds
Echinacea seeds are harvested gradually as they ripen. They are sown in the spring, at the end of February - March, in a box with soil to a depth of half a centimeter-centimeter, from above the seeds are crushed with a very thin layer of washed sand and gently moisten the ground.
They do not germinate quickly - from two to five weeks. The seedlings need warmth and moisture, so it is best to grow purple coneflower seedlings.
Caring for the seeds is so that the tiny seedlings on the windowsill do not dry out and are not wet. In early May, Echinacea seedlings are planted in open ground in a sunny place. Further, the sprouts need to be loosened and moderately watered. Echinacea loves squirting in hot summer water in the evening.
When sowing seeds in open ground, their seedlings will appear in 2-4 weeks. Planting seeds should be done in May. Our climatic conditions force us to sow purple echinacea seeds in greenhouses in February - March, and then plant seedlings in the ground.
Propagation of Echinacea by division of the bush
Echinacea purpurea can also be propagated by dividing bushes. This is done in early spring, when the leaves are just beginning to appear in plants. It is necessary to divide the bushes in early spring, until the leaves are opened and the bases of the shoots of Echinacea are not lignified. Delenka and root cuttings for better root development can withstand several hours in a solution of a liquid immunostimulant, and when planted, they are dusted with powder for rooting. The root necks of the delenoks during planting do not deepen, they should be at the level of the soil.
Many flowering plants in modern industrial conditions are propagated mainly by the meristemic method. This method allows you to easily and quickly get any number of required copies of the desired varieties. Echinacea purpurea is often grown meristemically in nurseries, and the resulting tiny meristemic plants are usually sold in early spring. If you purchased just such a plant, then they must be transplanted into pots with nutrient soil and kept in the shade, not forgetting to water.
After a month and a half, plants are planted in a permanent place. Meristem plants can be immediately planted in the soil, but then you need to do something like a greenhouse for them, for example, cover them with large bottles without a bottom from under the water. With good and proper care, small “delenki” sometimes even try to bloom in the first summer, but they do not need to be allowed to do this.
In general, the cultivation of Echinacea purpurea does not present excessive difficulties. And it can easily be mastered by gardeners and gardeners.
Diseases and Pests of Echinacea
If the ground is too wet, then two species of fungi of the genera of the cercospore (Cercospora) and septoria (Septoria), which cause the appearance of spots on the leaves, weakening and death, can affect the echinacea. If the lesion is small, the leaves are removed, otherwise they are treated with the corresponding fungicides.
Echinacea is susceptible to viral infections that cause deformation of peduncles, yellowing of leaves and the appearance of stripes on them. Affected specimens are removed.
Varieties and types of Echinacea
There are about 10 species in the genus Echinacea. As a healing plant, they are grown Echinacea purpurea (Echinacea purpurea), Narrow-leaved echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) and Pale echinacea (Echinacea pallida). In medicine, rhizomes are more often used, although flower heads, seeds and juice of the whole plant are also used.
Echinacea purpurea is best known as an immunostimulant; it is often included in anti-flu, colds, inflammations, and infections.
As a decorative plant, they are often grown Echinacea purpurea and Strange echinacea (Echinacea paradoxa), on their basis, modern varieties and hybrids of plants are mainly developed.
Echinacea purpurea has large, exquisite flowers (up to 12 cm in diameter) with a brownish core rising like a dome.
Strange echinacea - the only yellow echinacea in the genus; its peculiarity is lower frost resistance than other echinacea.
The following varieties of echinacea are popular in modern horticultural culture:
With pink and raspberry petals: Merlot, Hope, Magnus, Ovation, Pica Bella, Rubinstern (Ruby Star), Ruby Giant, Springbrook’s Crimson Star, Raspberry Tart.
With white petals: White Luster.
With yellow petals: Harvest Moon (Matthew Saul) and Big Sky Sunrise are new American hybrids.
Low (55-60 cm tall): Bright Star, Little Giant, Fatal Attraction, After Midnight (Emily Saul), Kim’s Knee High with pink-raspberry petals and Finale White, Cygnet White, Kim’s Mop Head with white petals. The compactness of these plants makes them suitable for the front row of mixborders and for growing in pots.
White Swan - a low plant (up to 1 m) with cream flowers.
Summer Sky (Katie Saul) - a new two-tone echinacea: peach petals with a pinkish "halo" at the core. Extraordinarily large and fragrant flowers. Plant height - up to 75 cm.
Prairie Frost is the first variety with spotty foliage. The history of the variety is interesting: in 1996, such plants unexpectedly appeared among the plantings of Echinacea of the Bravado variety. Flowers with pink-purple petals and a bronze-brown center.
Art’s Pride - Echinacea with peach-orange petals.
The King is a giant plant in height (from 150 to 220 cm) with huge reddish-pink flowers (up to 15 cm in diameter).
The use of Echinacea purpurea in medicine
In addition to decorative qualities, as already noted, echinacea have healing properties. For medical purposes, echinacea of any age is used, starting from two to three years.
As medicinal raw materials, stems, flowers, plant leaves and rhizomes with roots are used. Echinacea is used orally for flu, colds, ear infections, mononucleosis, diseases of the bladder, blood infections. Topically, echinacea is used for burns, furunculosis, wounds, abscesses, urticaria, insect bites, eczema, herpes and other skin diseases.
Preparations from Echinacea purpurea are used for diseases caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays, ionizing radiation, chronic inflammatory processes, chemical preparations, and prolonged treatment with antibiotics. With liver diseases, diabetes mellitus, exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, fungicides, insecticides.
The medicinal plant Echinacea not only strengthens the immune system, but also causes the death of viruses, bacteria and some fungi. Echinacea extracts inhibit streptococci, staphylococci, Escherichia coli, herpes viruses, stomatitis, and influenza. So, this is a really powerful herbal antibiotic!
Preparations from the plant are effective in treating polyarthritis, rheumatism, gynecological disorders, prostatitis, diseases of the upper respiratory tract, trophic ulcers, microbial eczema, osteomyelitis. As lotions from the decoction, it is used for eczema, psoriasis, streptococcal infections, all kinds of wounds, bites of bees and snakes.
Most studied the effect of polysaccharides Echinacea. Polysaccharides such as starch, cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin and inulin were isolated from purple, narrow-leaved and pale echinacea.
Plant polysaccharides stimulate the activity of human white blood cells, contribute to the production of T-lymphocytes. What helps to remove viruses from the body and the cells affected by them and prevent or weaken the disease.
Polysaccharides surround tissue cells and protect them from bacterial and pathogenic effects. This is the immunostimulating effect of the medicinal plant Echinacea on the human body. In addition, they promote tissue regeneration.
Caffeic acid glycoside accelerates healing, increases the body's resistance to viral and infectious diseases. Echinacin - accelerates wound healing.
This effect is associated with the ability of these compounds to suppress the activity of the enzyme hyaluronidase, which leads to an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect specific for echinacea. The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effect is enhanced by the contained hydroxycinnamic acids.
Another healing property of echinacea is the ability to prevent the destruction of hyaluronic acid in the body - a substance that fills the intercellular spaces and prevents the spread of viruses and bacteria from cell to cell.
Included inulin activates the immune system, increasing leukocyte mobility in areas with infection, increasing the solubility of immune complexes, as well as destroying viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms.
Although the composition of Echinacea as a medicinal plant, it would seem, has been well studied, but it still hides many secrets. So, recently it turned out that Echinacea contains antioxidants. Now many scientists are carefully studying the capabilities of the plant to combat other diseases.