Purple Cone Flower; Echinacea purpureaPreparations of this plant were used by the Plain Indians (Comanche and Sioux) for the treatment of upper respiratory infections, burns, snakebites, and cancers. The European settlers learned about these indications from the Indians. It has been demonstrated that plant extracts stimulate the immune system to combat bacterial and viral infections. It also possesses antibiotic properties. Echinacea's name is derived from the Greek word for hedgehog and was inspired by the appearance of the flower's central cone.
Native to North America, Echinacea purpurea is distributed from the states of Georgia to Louisiana and Oklahoma and northwards to Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. It inhabits rocky, open woodlands and prairies and is sometimes found on wetter soils adjacent to rivers and streams.