Native Echinacea species are dwindling in the wild from loss of habitat and over-harvesting. E. purpurea is not as threatened as E. angustifolia. In the wild, E. purpurea grows sporadically along waterways, with a few scattered individuals. Plant densities are too low for efficient harvest for commercial purposes. E. purpurea is the most widely adaptable species for cultivation. It is cold and heat hardy, easy to grow, and boasts high yields. Bioactive constituents of E. purpurea compare favorably with E. angustifolia, although there are proportional differences. E. angustifolia has more of the alkylamides, while E. purpurea has more of the equally immune enhancing caffeic acid derivatives. They are both effective medicines. A combination of both probably affords the most broad-spectrum immune-enhancing effect. Historically, E. purpurea was rarely utilized by pharmaceutical companies.
It takes three to four years for roots to reach harvestable size (Foster 1991). Yields for cultivated, dried roots of three-year-old Echinacea purpurea grown at Trout Lake, Washington, were 131 kg/ha (1,200 lbs/acre) (Foster 1991). According to Richo Cech (1995), a mature two-year old E. purpurea plant yields 2.25 pounds of fresh flowering aerial portions and 0.5 pounds of fresh root per plant.
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