|This page courtesy of Gerald Gettel,
known as "Echinacea Man"
Largest purchaser of cultivated & wild crafted Echinacea in Upper Midwest
The are nine different species of Echinacia that grow in America. Only three of those nine have been used in American folk medicine in modern times. They are:
The medical activity of Echinacea may be attributed to three main classes of active constituents:
- Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
- Echinacea angustifolia (Narrow-Leaved Coneflower)
- Echinacea pallida (Pale-Purple Coneflower)
E. purpurea and E. angustifolia have all three. E. pallida does not, and thus does not seem to work as well.
- Caffeic acid derivatives
- Alkylamides and polyacetylenes
Today, there is consistent markets for E. Purpurea and excellent markets for E. Angustifolia. These are the only two species that we recommend growing.
E. Purpurea is easy to grow and gives the greatest yeild in the shortest time period.
E. Angustifolia is trickier to grow and gives less yeild per plant, but that price is higher and much easier to sell.
E. Purpurea grows best in low elavation where the winters are mild.
E. Angustifolia grows best in high elavation where the winters are cold.
Either species can successfully be grown with appropriate soil preparation and cultivation techniques where there is a good freeze in the winter.
Since our company concentrates on the upper mid-west, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota; we will talk mainly about ECHINACEA ANGUSTIFOLIA. Dwindling populations of native Echinacea angustifolia, coupled with increasing demands for this valuable plant, points to the imperative appropriateness of cultivation as a necessary alternative to losing our native lands. E. angustifolia is threatened on one hand by the conversion of native habitat (the inevitable expansion of human occupation, grazing and farming), and on the other hand by heavy harvesting to serve the herbal pharmaceutical industry. For farmers, cultivation of this species can be a win-win situation, being economically rewarding and environmentally progressive.
To get started one has to have seeds. A pound contains - 128,000 seeds. Sources of E. angustifolia seeds are:
Casselton, ND 58012
P.O. Box 69
Williams, OR 97544-0069
Gerald Gettel (Mr. Echinacea)
1969 310th Ave.
Lengby, MN 56651
For possible other sources contact:
North Dakota State University.
The plant has a reputation for being a bad germination. With an understanding of the seed and germination process, when the proper steps are taken, it is an extremely dependable germinator. Unlike vegetables which have been selected for the trait of germination in springtime temperatures after a period of dry storage, Echinacea Angustifolia, like many medicinal plants retain their natural requirement of more complex combinations of conditioning environments in order to initiate germination. For instance, E. Angustifolia will not germinate if stored dry and planted in the garden in the spring, but if stored dry and planted in the fall or winter, subjected to oscillating temperatures and natural precipitation, germination in the spring is almost assured. The germinating conditions required in domestic culture are an approximation of the conditions experienced in the wild, where the seed ripens in the coneheads in the fall, is subsequently dispersed by birds, wind and snow, spends the winter in the earth near the mother plant and germinates in the following spring.
While many articles have been written on the best way to germinate E. Angustifolia, most agree that a minimum 12-week period of cold conditioning (what many folks call stratification) is considered to be an absolute requirement. If planting in the fall or early winter, scatter the seeds on open beds and cover the seeds with a light sifting of good compost or potting soil. The seed is thereby subjected to the optimal conditions of oscillating temperatures (temperatures that fluctuate from night to day), an extremely important pre-germination environment for Echinacea seed. If planting flats in the green house, cold condition the seed in the refrigerator. Mix the seed with damp sand and alternate between the refrigerator and freezer several times over a period of 12 weeks. The seed may then be sown directly in the garden or the field. The conditioned seed may also be sown in flats and placed in the greenhouse. The tap root must not be allowed to spiral or turn sideways. Use plug trays which allow for the taproot to grow straight down to a depth of 6 inches prior to transplanting. Transplant early in the spring, as this species has a tendency toward transplant shock and late transplanting when the days are hot may result in damage to leaves.
If you are just toying with the idea of cultivating E. Angustifolia and want to practice with a small quantity of seeds before planting the back 40 acres, you can get a practice kit with instructions from:
Gerald Gettel (Mr. Echinacea)
1969 310th Ave.
Lengby, MN 56651.