Echinacea Research Project at NC State
Lijing Zhou, Postdoc, Jennifer Crumley, Graduate Student, Jeanine Davis, Project Leader, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, John Balles, Sr. Research Scientist
North Carolina State University, Department of Horticultural Science, Raleigh, NC
Nutrition Product Development, Amway/Nutrilite Corporation , Lakeview, CA
Echinacea was traditionally used by Native American tribes to treat snake bites, sore throats, and toothaches, among other uses. Now it is primarily used as an immune system enhancer to reduce the length or severity of cold and flu symptoms, and to support the lymphatic and respiratory systems. It is also valued for its antibacterial and antiviral properties (http://www.webmd.com). Echinacea is one of the most commonly used medicinal herbs in U.S. and makes up as much as 10% of the herbal market. The tops and roots of these plants are used in a wide variety of commercially available natural botanical products. It is primarily used as an immune enhancer to reduce the length or severity of cold symptoms and is also used for its antibacterial and antiviral properties in recent years (http://www.webmd.com). Echinacea species are considered the most commonly used medicinal herbs in U.S. and make up as much as 10% of herbal market due to high demand. The tops and roots of these plants are used in a wide variety of commerically available natural botanical products (http://www.manitoba.ca).
There is interest in producing more Echinacea in North America. As such, we wanted to compare production in different areas. Two three-year field trials were initiated in 2012 in the southern mountains (Mills River) and upper piedmont (Reidsville) regions of North Carolina to determine the effects of location on growth and chemical composition of six sources of Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia (five from commercial seed companies and one from a private commercial herb farm). A similar study was conducted by Amway in Washington State so we evaluate whether growing these species in different parts of the country and using different seed sources affects the composition of the final product. At each location there are two studies, one for each species. Each study is a split- plot design with harvest years as the main plots and seed sources as the subplots. Data are being collected on growth stage, plant vigor, plant height, flowering date, number of flowers, top and root dry weight in each year, and chemical composition of the roots of both species and tops of E. purpurea.
In addition to funding the research studies, Amway/Nutrilite is supporting the education of a graduate student. Jennifer Crumley (shown above), is working on her Master’s Degree. She is expected toÂ graduate in December, 2014. The knowledge she gained both in the classroom and in the field will prove beneficial as she pursues a career in plant sciences.
We gratefully acknowledge Nutrilite for the funds supporting these studies.