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Creek Running North

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June 23, 2005

Echinacea

Don't ever let anyone tell you I haven't done my bit for public health. If you click on the thumbnail here and spend a few seconds gazing at the pop-up photo of the Echinacea pallida blooming in my backyard this morning, it will boost your immune system exactly seven times more than most commonly available homeopathic Echinacea products!

I especially love this species and its threadlike petals ray flowers. I planted its close cousin E. tennesseensis last weekend: it's happily rooting out into the soil. I do like to drink the occasional cup of Echinacea tea, though studies increasingly relegate any healthful effect of drinking Echinacea (other than hydration, and the relaxation that comes from drinking a nice cup of non-caffeinated tea) to the realm of folklore. It tastes good, and that's what matters to me.

Unfortunately, demand for the species - propped up by the folklore that the plant is a miracle cure - has accelerated depletion in the wild. Many Echinacea species are endangered as a result, including the one I planted last weekend. (My plant was propagated in a nursery from seed collected legally, of course.) There are places in the remaining tall-grass prairie where collectors have completely wiped out wild Echinacea populations.

There are those who promote the ethical production of medicinal herbs, and I'm glad they're there. In the meantime, as long as I drink the stuff, I might as well grow my own. And the solace of lovely wildflowers - seeing them in my garden, knowing that a few still remain out in the wild - is infinitely more healing than a cup of tea.

Posted by Chris Clarke at June 23, 2005 12:33 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:
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Comments

A friend of mine who has grown Echinacea told me she heard you could put cut Echinacea flowers in water (with or without other flowers) and the water would stay clear as opposed to getting moldy or slimy with bacteria. She tried it and says it works - some quality of the Echinacea?

Posted by: leslee at June 23, 2005 06:15 PM
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I'll have to try that!

Posted by: Chris Clarke at June 23, 2005 06:22 PM
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Ahh, I feel better already. Thanks for the gentle moment brought by that photo.

Posted by: handdrummer at June 24, 2005 06:10 AM
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Is echinacea only a "placebo" no matter the delivery method?

I've read that the touted health benefits of echinacea tea are false, but I didn't realize the many echinacea pills so many people are popping may be devoid of real value as well.

In any event, I sent some beautiful echinacea to my mother for Mother's Day, which I'm told she has planted at the edge of her garden. I look forward to making some tea when I next visit.

Posted by: Hungry Hyaena at June 24, 2005 11:16 AM
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I for one really appreciate the combination of nature and political commentary on this blog. I visit far too many political blogs during my lunch breaks, get more and more wrought up about things that I feel powerless to change in any immediate way, and then am brought back to myself by the nature entries.

I happen to live just around the corner from Chris, in El Cerrito, and I have learned what all those butterflies heading northwest are from his blog (Painted Ladies!) and I saw that his iris bloom was in exactly the same stage of unfolding as mine was, a few miles away. I know the park and the area where he went walking with his friends last week.

These entries are my reminder to focus on some of the good, enduring aspects of life. It's necessary to do this in order to reinvigorate myself and go back to following the progress of the destruction of the system of government that, for better or worse, I grew up with. These things in nature endure in the long run, I tell myself. Irregardless of what government we have, the irises will still unfurl in the spring and the butterflies will still head northwest on mysterious missions. I need that before going back and dealing with Mr. Rove's latest outrage....

Oh, by the way, howdie neighbor!

Posted by: lurking liz at June 24, 2005 12:47 PM
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Liz?

El Cerrito Liz?

Is that really you?

How about that?

Posted by: Chris Clarke at June 24, 2005 12:57 PM
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Is it me? Dunno, not sure; there must be at least 10 of us Liz's lurking in El Cerrito.

Posted by: lurking Liz at June 24, 2005 06:32 PM
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