Echinacea in Oklahoma
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Glen Gouker
Posted on: June 29, 2006

I am looking for an alternative crop to grow here in Oklahoma. I thought that since purple coneflower grows native here if echinacea might be a good crop as I think I have the proper soil type and climate for it. What else might be a potentially profitable crop for my area?

There are nine species of Echinacea (11 taxa, if you count the two subspecies; see http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1999/v4-482.html) known at this time, but only three are marketed in the medicinal herb trade: E. angustifolia, E. purpurea and E. pallida. While several species of Echinacea grows in Oklahoma, they are mostly close relatives of E. angustifolia or the endangered E. paradoxa which has no market. The most common species which grows in Oklahoma is E. atrorubens.

Purple cone flower was confused by the German in the 1930s, and E. purpurea became the most commonly used Echinacea throughout Europe. Very little of that is used in the US, however. And, it turns out that Echinacea is one of those very rare crops that are habitat sensitive. That mean it is important where it was grown, not by whom.

Basically, the best Echinaceas come from Alberta, Manitoba, Montana, North Dakota, and slip of Wyoming. It never rains in these regions, causing the rootbark to be thicker (and hence higher in chicoric acid). In other regions, even the best growers cannot compete for the quality. With that all said, my recommendation is that you select a different crop.

If you choose to grow it, I have written a book on that specific crop. It can be found at www.herbfarminfo.com. You had the right idea, looking for crops that are already acclimatized or native to the region. With that said, I would recommend scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), also wildcrafted from your region. There are shortages in the marketplace, and your region supports that specific species.

For other recommendations, please see my website article on Mid-Western Crops at:

http://www.nwbotanicals.org/nwb/midwest/midwest_crops.htm

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