Echinacea purpurea is one of our favorite herbs on our Certified Organic farm, and we grow a lot of it — usually four fields each year.
Every autumn, once the days have cooled off and Echinacea’s flower heads have gone to seed, we harvest them for extracts and next year’s crops. Soon after, we harvest some of our mature Echinacea roots, leaving other fields to continue to grow another year. (Echinacea is a perennial herb, so the roots will keep growing after we harvest the seed heads.)
Root harvests like Echinacea start with the help of a tractor, which loosens the large root balls. Then, our interns and crew use digging forks to unearth the roots, carefully tapping them to remove the dirt. They collect the roots, transport them by wagon to the barn and start the washing process.
As you might imagine, it takes several rounds of washing to remove all the dirt. The fibrous Echinacea roots go into a root washer (it’s like a washing machine for roots), then they get cut into smaller pieces between rinses.
Finally, they head to the lab for validation, then our processing facility to be extracted. Echinacea root extract is used in our Super Echinacea®, as well as Alcohol-Free Echinacea, Alcohol-Free Golden Echinacea™, Daily Immune Builder™, Echinacea, Golden Echinacea™, Herbs on the Go: Immune Season™, Immunattack™, Kids Echinacea, Kids Immune Avenger™, Rapid Immune Boost™, Soft Tissue Soother™, Soothing Throat Spray™ and Virattack™.
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: Echinacea purpurea forms a network of fibrous roots
Use(s): supports healthy function of the immune system*
Flavor profile: deep, earthy taste followed by a tingling mouthfeel due to naturally occurring alkylamides