We process over 700 pounds of Echinacea purpurea leaf and flower every year, so we need to grow a lot of this beautiful plant. Every year on our Certified Organic farms in southern Oregon, we have about four rotating crops of Echinacea.
Every summer when they reach their peak, we harvest the leaf and flower of some of our Echinacea plants. (We always leave some in the fields, so the roots keep thriving and we have a source for seeds.) The perennial plants can reach as high as your chest once they’re fully grown and ready for harvest.
Our farm crew and interns cut down the plants, but leave some of the stems behind. The cut flowers are collected and bundled, then loaded into a wagon. The first stop is our barn, to separate the stems from the leaf and flowers. (We compost the stems, so they help nourish the next generation of plants.) Each batch is then validated at our laboratory before heading to the processing facility to be extracted while still fresh.
Herb at a glance
Botanical name: Echinacea purpurea
Common name(s): Purple coneflower, Echinacea
Native habitat: Eastern and central US
Parts used: roots, seeds, flowers and leaves
Botanical description: purplish-pink flowers, with narrow, dark green, lance-shaped leaves
Use(s): supports healthy function of the immune system*
Flavor profile: deep, earthy taste followed by a tingling mouthfeel due to naturally occurring alkylamides