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One of my most important gardening goals for this year is establishing echinacea in several parts of my garden. So I ordered several bags of echinacea seeds from a seed shop. (I actually didn't pay attention on the exact latin name) However, I just noticed that seeds are not of Echinacea purpurea (which is the most common in gardens, and I expected this species), but of Echinacea angustifolia:

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Do you know what are differences between Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia, from gardening point of view?

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Echinacea purpurea is the more commonly grown one - it tends to grow better in more easterly regions than E. augustifolia (which is native to the North American prairies). In appearance, E.augustifolia is known as the narrow leaved Echinacea because, yes, it has narrower leaves; it forms a large taproot, and these are often harvested in the wild to produce echinacea oil supplements. It's also somewhat longer lived than E. purpurea, lasting 10-20 years in situations that suit it, whereas E. purpurea only up to 10 years. In reality, either of these may well disappear suddenly, particularly E. purpurea - some growers suggest using them as an annual rather than reckoning on their remaining as a perennial.

There is some argument about whether E. augustifolia is actually a separate species, or just a variant of E. pallida (E. pallida 'augustifolia) and you may find it classified as a separate species, or simply a variant. More information can be found here: Echinacea angustifolia DC..

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Both E. purpurea and E. angustifolia are used interchangeably in herbal medicine. E. angustifolia has a fleshy taproot whereas E. purpurea has a fibrous root. Most herbal medicines use the root and some use the seed as well. They are generally considered equal by herbalists.

  • This also probably means angustifolia is more sensitive to transplanting and harder to propagate by root dividing, no? – VividD Mar 6 '18 at 9:28
  • I would imagine so, although I only grow E. purpurea on the NE coast of the USA. Many taproots that snap easily, like Horseradish or Comfrey seem to have adapted to the plunder. I find E. purpurea to be "manageable" from a gardener or herbalist perspective as you precisely harvest only what it needed without much harm to the mother. – herb guy Mar 6 '18 at 14:36

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