Thursday, February 17, 2011

ABC Wednesday on Thursday: "E" is for Echinacea

Echinacea purpurea (Purple coneflowers)... not just purple any longer. Posted by Picasa

"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it is your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else." ~ Georgia O'Keeffe (American Painter, 1887-1986)
Well, this is a day late and a dollar short but the color infusion is a blessing and much needed in February. And days like today with balmy temperatures and that blast of Spring that is in the air.. well, I am looking forward to seeing if these beauties survived the winter and if they are truly able to multiply and grow stronger in their second garden go round.

These are all Echinacea purpurea or purple coneflowers... which is fine, except they are not purple! The purple variety are the native wildflowers that grow in the central plains. They derive their common name from the prickly cone shaped central disk that towers over the daisy like petals. These days an explosion of color has appeared as cultivars that range from bright sunrise yellow through hot orange to tomato soup red. Whites and even lime green varieties along with double rows of petals and fragrant flowers have been added. So the purple coneflower is not your great-great-grandmother's coneflower.

A derivative of the tap root, Echinacea has been touted as an enhancer of the body's immune system... great for colds. It was used by Native Americans for a variety of disorders including toothaches, sore throats and coughs. Some proponents insist that this is great for preventing or shortening colds and other research indicates that it has no effect at all. Ah... the power of placebo suggestion.

So, I don't really know the answer to the "medicinal" uses.. but if you let these gorgeous blooms fade in the garden and leave the central cones to dry and turn brown.. well, yes, it doesn't look that neat and pristine... but the seeds in those cones are simply bliss for the small birds in winter, particularly the finches. I have seen them perch on the sturdy but dead stems and graze to their little hearts content.

So, this (late) ABC Wednesday is the letter "E" and that stands for Echinacea... an efflorescence of exquisite elegance, easy on the eyes as well as an edible entrée that endows essential energy to our fine feathered friends. (Just thinking about next week)

(end of post)
ABC Wednesday Cycle 8 ~ The Letter "E"


kenju said...

Wonderful photos! If I ever plant another garden, I'll sow some for the birds.

kenju said...

Wonderful photos! If I ever plant another garden, I'll sow some for the birds.

Ginny Hartzler said...

The color ans clarity of these is exquisite! We don't have any in our yard,  but I wish we did.

Patricia said...

Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. Wonderful Georgia O'Keeffe quote, too. That's what we do with our photos. Yes? 

colleen said...

I have grown it and tinctured it for a medicinal.  So many drugs are made from plants but in this case I never noticed that it did a thing.  I have made other tinctures that work well for various things, though. 

Granny Smith said...

Butterflies love the blossoms too. A very satisfactory plant to grow. Good post!

Roger Green said...

it does look like spring. one can hope, anyway.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Misfitinparadise said...

It grows wild all over my property.  As soon as I try to add it to my garden, it dies.
Donna - ABC Team

Sandra said...

my hubby would love to have the seeds off those cones, wow, the bucket garden would love them. and i need to call them cone flowers because the real name looks like a sneeze. beautiful collage

Paul Nichols said...

May I please make a strong recommendation? It's within inches of Spring and the bees will soon be flexing their wings. Why don't you try to spot a few and point your camera at them. So much fun. Get as close as you feel comfortable and then scoot in a few more feet. They won't bother you; they'll be too busy gulping pollen and nectar. I'm gonna try to get some this year. I only got one last year. Blurred at the last split second.

PS If a bee or two buzzes around your head, don't swat at it. It won't be there long--unless you're a lot sweeter than I originally thought. :)