Tag Archives: Echinacea

Cedar Valley Home & Garden Article Going native: Start your own wildflower garden from scratch

Going native: Start your own wildflower garden from scratch

The coneflower is a given when compiling lists of popular wildflowers.

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This prairie plant is beloved for its easy-going nature and long-lasting daisy-like blossoms blooms. It attracts bees, butterflies and other insects into the garden, and it’s fun to watch goldfinches dangling upside down dining on seeds plucked from spent heads.

Narrow-leafed purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia) is an Iowa native, along with pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) and purple conflower (Echinacea purpurea). A few areas of Iowa, mostly on our western edge, you’ll find the yellow prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) and the grey-headed prairie coneflower (Ratibida pinnata).


Black-eyed and brown-eyed Susans are prized, along with columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) with its cheerful red and yellow nodding blooms, wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) and butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). New England aster (Symphyotricum novae-angliae, previously Aster novae-angliae) is among my personal favorites, and the first type of aster I ever planted. Monarchs passing through my fall garden find it a valuable source of nectar (and a landing pad to rest).


Search out a source for high-quality seeds and plants that are suited to your growing conditions — location, soil type, sun exposure, etc. The National Garden Bureau, which has declared 2013 the “Year of the Wildflower,” also suggests tracking down fact sheets and publications geared toward your geographic region, such as the Xerces Society (www.xerces.org) and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s extensive database that can be searched by state (www.wildflower.org). Iowa State University Extension also has good resources for wildflower information.

To create your own wildflower garden, follow these NGB suggestions:

1. Prepare the soil by removing weeds and other unwanted vegetation. If the soil is compacted, till lightly so the soil is loose and germinating seeds can put down roots. A bow rake is great for loosening the top layer of soil. Digging or roto-tilling too deep will bring up weed seeds and other plants that will need to be removed later to avoid competing with the wildflower seeds. While it may not be practical or necessary to amend the soil before planting wildflowers, you can add organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure before planting depending on the site.

2. Wildflower seed and seed mixes can be planted in either spring or fall. Spring rains help seeds germinate and plants get established before many weeds have a chance to grow. In cold climates, a dormant seeding of wildflowers can be done in the fall when temperatures are low enough that seed will not germinate until weather warms up the following spring, similar to what happens in nature. Some seeds, especially many of our native perennial wildflower species, need a chilling period to break their dormancy. This is provided naturally by the change in temperatures from winter into spring.

3. Scatter seeds by hand or with a small spreader. Seeds can be raked into the soil or lightly covered with soil. Water thoroughly right after planting and keep seeds and seedlings moist for about 4-6 weeks. Gradually reduce watering as seedlings develop. Identify and remove weed seedlings as soon as possible since they will compete with wildflowers for water, nutrients and space. For dormant seeding, watering after planting seeds is not necessary.

Care & feeding

Annual flowers are more abundant at first because they grow and flower quickly. Perennial plants will follow and eventually become established; many annual and perennial plants may reseed themselves.

Year one: Not all seeds will germinate right away, especially perennial wildflowers. Don’t be disappointed if there is no “instant” meadow. For more immediate results combine seeding wildflowers with planting a few container-grown plants. Plants will quickly get established and compete with weeds that may appear.

Identify and remove weeds when small to prevent spreading. Wildflowers may need additional water if rainfall is sparse, especially during extended heat spells. Avoid cutting flowers so they can seed and fill in the garden next year.

Year two: You’ll see new plants from seed that didn’t germinate the first year. Water if rainfall is inadequate, especially in spring or hot we ather. Remove weeds as they appear. As flowers become established, weeding will lessen. Fill in bare spots with seed or container-grown plants.

Year three and beyond: Minimal maintenance; remove weeds that may move in. Move plants that are too close or overcrowded and use them to fill in bare spots or sow more seeds. You may need to water if there is an extended period of heat. Fertilizing is generally not required.

In the garden setting, you can mulch around plants with compost or well-rotted manure. Mowing or cutting wildflowers to about 6 inches high will spread seeds and keep the garden looking neat. You can dig or rake the soil to regenerate a wildflower garden by improving contact between soil and seeds that have dropped to the ground.

Article Taken From Cedar Valley Home & Garden Website

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Plant of the Week from Ion Exchange, Inc. ECHINACEA PALLIDA | Pale Purple Coneflower

Echinacea from the Greek word for “sea urchin” or “hedgehog” referring to the spiny chaff at the center of these flowers. Pallida is from the latin word for “pale”.


Perennial; reaches 2 to 3 feet; leaves are mostly basal and elongated ovals up to 7 inches long. Single, pale purple flowers top a stem with a few stiff hairs and few leaves. Favors open prairies and dry open woods of the Tallgrass region; occasionally found along undisturbed roadsides. Blooms from May to July.

Native Americans of the Plains are said to have used Echinacea for more medicinal purposes than any other plant group. The root (chewed or brewed in a tea) was used for snakebites, spider bites, cancers, toothaches, burns, hard-to-heal sores, colds and flu. Current science confirms a cortisone-like activity as well as insecticidal, bactericidal and immuno-stimulant activites. It is still considered a nonspecific immune system stimulant. There are over 300 pharmaceutical preparations made in Germany including extracts, salves and tinctures used for wounds, herpes, sores, canker sores and throat infections. It’s also a preventative for colds and flu. An old folk remedy claims success as a treatment for brown recluse spider bites, but it is not known how the plant was prepared for this remedy.

Edible Uses: Unknown

Medicinal Uses: Plants in this genus were probably the most frequently used of N. American Indian herbal remedies, though this species is considered to be less active than E. angustifolim. They had a very wide range of applications and many of these uses have been confirmed by modern science. The plant has a general stimulatory effect on the immune system and is widely used in modern herbal treatments. There has been some doubt over the ability of the body to absorb the medicinally active ingredients orally (intravenous injections being considered the only effective way to administer the plant), but recent research has demonstrated significant absorption from orally administered applications. In Germany over 200 pharmaceutical preparations are made from Echinacea. The roots and the whole plant are considered particularly beneficial in the treatment of sores, wounds, burns etc, possessing cortisone-like and antibacterial activity. The plant was used by N. American Indians as a universal application to treat the bites and stings of all types of insects. An infusion of the plant was also used to treat snakebites.

The plant is adaptogen, alterative, antiseptic, depurative, diaphoretic, digestive, sialagogue. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Herbal Uses: Unknown

To Purchase This Beautiful Wildflower Visit Us At Our Website Ion Exchange, Inc.

The Great Sunflower Project Article On The BUZZ: Join Us for the Great Bee Count on Saturday, August 11, 2012

The BUZZ: Join Us for the Great Bee Count on Saturday, August 11!

Greetings citizen scientists! Our poll results are in, and, at last count, some 46% of you have sunflowers up and blooming. About one-third (34%) are still waiting for blooms (or encountered an gardening mishap), and another 21% didn’t plant sunflowers this year.

Those of you lucky enough to have sunflowers in bloom are diligently sending in your bee observations. Congratulations to all those who have already had the opportunity to observe, collect and report their data. Well done! Without your thoughtful observations, we would not have the wealth of information that we have to date.

To see results from the project using data reported up to 2012, have a look here: http://www.greatsunflower.org/results#map – you can zoom in on your area, see averages by type of garden and trends by year. Great stuff, and all because of your participation!

It’s important that you keep sending in data, so please join us and thousands of others across the country in The Great Bee Count on Saturday, August 11th.

Even if you do not have blooms on your sunflowers by August 11th, you can still be enjoy, learn and be part of the project by observing bees on other plants that you may have in bloom. Cosmos, tickseed, bee balm and echinacea, are all on our list, so you can collect data on these if your sunflowers are not blooming yet. And, it’s okay if your sunflower hasn’t bloomed yet. They will in time so you can make your 15 minute observation when they do open up.

And, this year, in support of the Great Bee Count, YourGardenShow.com will present a special online live broadcast “Double Feature” on August 11th, from 10am – noon EST (7am to 9am PST). First hour: a special “Ask Ian” Q&A show about pollination and pollinators followed by an hour of moderated interviews with bee experts talking about our pollinator friends. Join us for this one day event!: http://www.yourgardenshow.com/ask-ian

As you can see from our map, bees are declining in certain areas, and there are some areas where we have no data. Could that be your garden? The more we know, the more action will be able to be taken to preserve and enhance pollinator habitat.

Join us on August 11th!

Freddy B

To Purchase Pollinator Seed Mix Click on Ion Exchange, Inc. Link Below



Echinecea the Beautiful Purple Coneflower and it’s Uses.

What Is Echinecea?

Echinecea and its uses

Purple Coneflower

Taken from Hair Boutique.com (Health and wellness tip of the week)
At this time of year colds and influenza becomes a big concern.   Especially during the Holidays when people mingle in larger groups  than normal. Due to the economy, changes in health coverage and other  issues, more people are searching for alternative treatments  for minor health concerns such as colds and flu.
Echinacea has become more popular as an option. It’s often combined  with goldenseal as a herbal alternative for amping up the immune system  to block cold and flu viruses from taking hold. Used By Native Americans Echinacea angustifolia was widely used for its general medicinal qualities by the Native North Americans who lived in the Midwestern states.
Native Americans learned of E. angustifolia by observing elk seeking  out  the plants and consuming them when sick or wounded. They identified   those plants as elk root. Echinacea was one of the  basic antimicrobial herbs of eclectic  medicine from the mid 19th century  through the early 20th century. Its use was documented for snakebite, anthrax, and for relief of discomfort.  In the 1930s echinacea became popular in both Europe and America as a  herbal medicine. Echinacea Is A Flowering Plant Echinacea pronounced ek-i-NAY-sha is a genus of herbaceous flowering   plant in  the Asteraceae daisy family. It’s a popular alternative  herbal  style  of treatment believed by many to help with cold and  influenza   prevention and/or treatment. The  generic name Echinacea is rooted in a Greek word echinos,     meaning sea  urchin. It references the spiky appearance and feel of the     flower  heads. Echinacea plants reseed in the fall. New  flowers   will grow where seeds have fallen from the prior year. Echinacea still falls under the category of folk remedy. You should  always consult  with your primary health care provider  before  taking  any type of  herbs or alternative treatments. Species Of Echinacea It’s also known as the purple coneflower. It’s a North American plant  group with nine species, three of which are commonly believed to help  with cold and influenza prevention. Cold And Flu Properties
The three species valued for their cold and flu properties include: 1.  Echinacea angustifolia – Narrow-leaf Coneflower
2.  Echinacea pallida – Pale Purple Coneflower
3. Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower, Eastern Purple Coneflower The  flowering plant is generally found in eastern and central North   America. It thrives in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. It   blooms from early to late Summer and is tolerant of drought   conditions. Does Echinacea Really Work? Many people swear by echinacea (or combination remedies) as their go-to herb for preventing or minimizing the impact of colds and flu attacks. Does it really work for everyone who takes it?  Absolutely not.
There is not one single remedy – prescription or alternative –   which works 100% for all people of all ages. There are a vast number of   variables which have to be considered for any type of remedy. The same   holds true for echinacea. While some users of alternative treatment  swear  by it, others find it doesn’t help them at all.
The truth of whether echinacea works or not, and who it works for, is   generally a matter of personal experience. I personally have been   taking echinacea or echinacea goldenseal formulations for close to 30   years. I believe it helps me when I am fighting off a cold or flu. But it definitely doesn’t help some of my family and   friends who’ve tried it. After much research I found the liquid capusules available from Gaia  Herbs work best for me.  Herbal teas or herbal pills have not proven to be as effective which confirms my opinion that everyone needs to do their own research, talk to their own health care professionals and make their own  decisions before taking any type of alternative treatment.
Note: We do not sell Gaia Herbs at HairBoutique.com <http://www.hairboutiquemedia.com/emailmarketer/link.php?M=13681&N=803&L=52&F=H> . I mention Gaia products because they work well for me and I have used them for many years. I am  sure other brands may work just as well, but I can not recommend any which  I have not personally tried. Not A One Dose Treatment Proponents  of echinacea assert it is not a “one-dose” treatment. In  order for echinacea to work effectively, a dose should be taken at the  very first  sign of cold symptoms.
Subsequent doses are called for every  two to  four hours after the first dose, including during the overnight   sleeping period, until the cold symptoms have disappeared. The several species of echinacea differ in their precise chemical   constitution, and may provide variable dosages of any active   ingredients. Be sure to read the suggested dosages contained on the product labels or follow instructions from your health care provider.
Possible Side Effects? Always consult with your primary care health consultant before taking echinacea to make sure you are not at risk for any side effects. When taken by mouth, echinacea does not usually cause side effects.   One of the most extensive and systematic studies to review the safety of   echinacea products concluded that overall “adverse events are rare,   mild and reversible” with the most common symptoms being   “gastrointestinal and skin-related.” Although rare, echinacea may cause nausea, abdominal cramps, loose bowels, itching and rash.  Nausea and abdominal discomofrt are more pronounced when the product is taken on an empty stomach. Echinacea has also been linked to rare   allergic reactions, including asthmatic attacks, shortness of breath, and one case   of anaphylaxis.
Muscle and joint aches has been associated with   echinacea, but it may have been caused by cold or flu symptoms for which   the echinacea products were administered. Isolated Cases Of Rare Side Effects There  are isolated case reports of very rare and idiosyncratic  reactions  including thrombocytopenic purpura, leucopenia, hepatitis,  renal  failure, and atrial fibrillation. It is not clear these reactions  were specifically due to echinacea and may have been part of a larger medical issue.
Experts have expressed concerns that by stimulating immune functions, echinacea   could potentially exacerbate autoimmune disease and/or decrease the effectiveness of immunosuppresive formulas, but this warning is based on theoretical considerations rather than human data. To date there have been no case reports of any interactions with   echinacea. The “currently available evidence suggests echinacea   is unlikely to pose serious health threats for patients combining it   with conventional formulas.” As a matter of manufacturing safety, one investigation by an   independent consumer testing laboratory found that five of eleven   selected retail echinacea products failed quality testing.
Four of the  failing products contained levels of phenols below the  potency level  stated on the labels. One was  contaminated with lead. Ultimately only select products which are known for their manufacturing safety and guality practices.
Scientific Reviews Multiple  scientific reviews, trials and meta-analyses have evaluated the   published peer reviewed literature on the immunological effects of echinacea. Reviews of the medicinal effects of echinacea are often  complicated  by the inclusion of a wide range of mixtures. Some formulas are based  solely upon echinacea while others are combinations. Also, some formulations are offered in higher potency or delivery  systems than others. Some use the roots versus other parts of the  plants and some are offered as extracts and expressed juice. There are also three of the nine species known to help with cold and  flu conditions and may be used alone or in combination with each other herbal ingredients.
Contradictory Claims Of Echinacea Effectiveness
Evaluation of the literature within the field generally suffers from a  lack of well-controlled trials, with many studies of lower quality. The results tend to be contradictory. Depending upon what studies you  read, echinacea works or it has no effect. A 2007 study by the University of Connecticut combined findings from  14 previously reported trials examining echinacea. The study concluded echinacea can cut the chances of catching a cold by more than half, and  shorten the duration of a cold by an average of 1.4 days. A  2003 controlled double-blind study from the University of Virginia  School of Medicine and documented in the New England Journal of Medicine  stated that echinacea extracts had “no clinically significant effects”  on rates of infection or duration or intensity of symptoms. The effects held when the herb was taken immediately following  infectious viral exposure and when taken as a prophylaxis starting a  week prior to exposure. An earlier University of Maryland review based on 13 European studies  concluded that echinacea, when taken at first sign of a cold, reduced  cold symptoms or shortened their duration. Use Of Expressed Juice And Similar The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) assessed the body of evidence on echinacea. The EMEA approved the use of expressed juice and dried expressed juice from  fresh flowering aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea for the short-term  prevention and treatment of the common cold. According to their recommendations: 1.  It should not be used for more than 10 days at a time
2.  Children under the age of one should not take it because they have immature immune systems
3.  It is generally not recommended for children between 1 and 12 years of age
4.  Echinacea is not recommended for use by pregnant women and during lactation  Echinacea As Immunostimulator
Echinacea is popularly believed to be an immunostimulator,  stimulating the body’s non-specific immune system and warding off  infections. It is also utilized as a laxative. A study commonly used  to support that belief is a 2007 meta-analysis in The Lancet Infectious  Diseases. The studies pooled in the meta-analysis used different types of  echinacea, different parts of the plant, and various dosages. This  review cannot inform recommendations on the efficacy of any particular  type of echinacea, dosage, or treatment regimen.
The safety of echinacea under long-term use is also unknown. History Of Echinacea Use
Echinacea angustifolia was widely used by the early Native Americans  for its general medicinal qualities. Echinacea was one of the basic  antimicrobial herbs of eclectic medicine from the mid 19th century  through the early 20th century. Its use was documented for  snakebite, anthrax, and for relief of aches. In the 1930s echinacea  became popular in both Europe and America as a herbal medicine. According to Wallace Sampson, MD, its modern day use as a treatment  for the common cold began when a Swiss herbal supplement maker was  “erroneously told” echinacea was used for cold prevention by Native  American tribes who lived in the area of South Dakota. Although  Native Americans didn’t use echinacea to prevent the common cold, some  Plains tribes did use echinacea to treat many of the symptoms which could  be caused by the common cold. The Kiowa used it for coughs and sore throats, the Cheyenne for sore  throats, the Pawnee for headaches, and many tribes including the Lakotah  used it as relief for congestion. Active Substances Like most crude formulas from plant or animal origin, the constituent  base for echinacea is complex, consisting of a wide variety of chemicals  of variable effect and potency. Some chemicals may be directly  antimicrobial, while others may work at stimulating or modulating  different parts of the immune system. All species have chemical compounds called phenols, which are common  to many other plants. Both the phenol compounds of cichoric and caftaric are present in E. purpurea. Other phenols include  echinacoside, which is found in greater levels within E. angustifolia  and E. pallida roots than in other species. When making herbal remedies, these phenols can serve as markers for  the quantity of raw echinacea in the product. Other chemical  constituents that may be important in echinacea health effects include  alkylamides and polysaccharides. Summary Does echinacea work to help boost the immune system and help block  cold and flu viruses from attacking? There is a lot of conflicting  opinions about the value of this herb. Ultimately you need to do your  own research, form your own opinions and always check with your primary care provider. Warning: Always consult your health care provider BEFORE you  undertake any new type of vitamin, mineral program or herbal program of  any type to make sure it does not interfere with any medical treatment  you may currently be on. References Foster, Steven, “Cold Comfort” Longevitiy Magazine, February 1996, 32
 Canlas J, Hudson JB, Sharma M, Nandan  D.,”Echinacea and trypanasomatid  parasite interactions: Growth-inhibitory and anti-inflammatory effects  of Echinacea”. Pharm Biol. 2010 Sep;48(9):1047-52 Image courtesy Haap Media, Ltd.