Coneflowers are edible and can be eaten raw or used to make herbal teas. All parts of coneflowers are edible, including the leaves, stems, and flower buds. The roots can also be consumed but mainly have medicinal uses. In this article, we’ll uncover when and how to consume coneflowers and the best varieties to consider.
Are Coneflowers Edible?
Several Native American societies used coneflowers (Echinacea spp.) for food and medicine. All types of coneflowers are edible, and it’s relatively easy to grow them in your garden. Although coneflowers have hairy leaves, this should only cause problems if you consume them in large quantities.
Coneflowers have sharp, earthy, or floral flavors with hints of pine. Coneflower tea has a strong floral taste with a bitter note. Consuming coneflowers is believed to yield several health benefits because these flowers are high in antioxidants, according to Healthline.
Do Coneflowers Have Medicinal Benefits?
Coneflowers also have medicinal benefits and were used by Native American societies to treat several ailments. The flowers, leaves, and roots are used to treat skin problems such as acne or eczema. Studies indicate that using echinacea may help hydrate your skin and keep it smooth.
Native Americans also used coneflowers to treat respiratory issues such as colds, coughs, and fevers. This is backed up by several modern studies. Echinacea tea can help alleviate sore throats and reduce the duration of cold and flu symptoms.
Some research also suggests that consuming coneflowers can improve our immune systems. Coneflowers contain several compounds that can lower blood sugar levels and decrease inflammation.
How to Harvest Coneflowers
Wait until your flowers reach their second year before harvesting them. Coneflowers are perennials that usually don’t flower in their first year while they develop leaves and roots. Once they reach their second year, they are established enough to harvest.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to harvesting and drying coneflower leaves to make echinacea tea:
- Harvest coneflower leaves at any time while your coneflower is blooming. Coneflowers bloom for six to eight weeks from mid-July until October.
- Use sharp, sterile scissors or secateurs to harvest your coneflower. Cut the stem slightly above the lowest pair of leaves.
- Remove the leaves from the stem.
- Place the leaves on a drying rack and leave them to dry for five to seven days. Choose somewhere dry and warm that doesn’t get direct sunlight.
- Once the leaves feel like paper, they’re ready to store and used for tea.
- Mix one or two teaspoons of dried leaves into hot water to make a cup of echinacea tea. Sweeten the tea using honey if needed.
All parts of coneflowers are edible and have medicinal benefits, especially the roots. The leaves are best used to make echinacea tea. Harvest coneflower leaves any time during the blooming season and dry them for approximately seven days to make coneflower tea.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best companion plants for coneflowers.