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This palindromic form applies variously to two or more different types of plants in the family Asteraceae. It is characteristic of the genus Echinacea and of other members of the large genus Rudbeckia. The plants are often called "cone flowers".Originally named Rudbeckia purpurea by Linnaeus in 1753 in Species plantarum 6, it was reclassified in 1794 by Conrad Moench, in a new genus named Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench. In 1818, Thomas Nuttall describes a new variety that he named Rudbeckia purpurea var. serotina. Just two decades later, De Candolle raised him to the rank of species of the other genus Echinacea serotina (Nutt.) DC. (1836).
Echinacea purpurea is an herbaceous perennial up to 120 cm (47 in) tall by 25 cm (10 in) wide at maturity. Depending on the climate, it blooms throughout summer into autumn. Its cone-shaped flowering heads are usually, but not always, purple in the wild. Its individual flowers (florets) within the flower head are hermaphroditic, having both male and female organs in each flower. It is pollinated by butterflies and bees. The alternate leaves, borne by a petiole from 0 to 17 cm, are oval to lanceolate, 5-30 x 5-12 cm; the margin is tightened to toothed.Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench is one of the most important and well-known medicinal plants in the world, belonging to the Asteraceae (Compositae) family. The plant is the most widely cultivated medicinal plant in this species, which has been mainly used in chemo-preventive and chemotherapy for infectious diseases in both upper and lower respiratory systems.[2,3] This species has been traditionally employed for the treatment of toothache, bowel pain, snake bite, skin disorders, seizure, chronic arthritis, and cancer. Although the isolation and structural elucidation of its main compounds have been noticed by investigators, there is no affirmation about its mechanism of action.
Alkamides, caffeic acid derivatives, and polysaccharides have been considered important constituents of the plant. A number of studies revealed that alkamides are involved in the immunomodulatory properties of Echinacea extracts in vitro and in vivo.[4,5] Additionally, caffeic acid is found in some species of Echinacea and could be applied toward authentication and quality control of the plant extracts. The polysaccharides play an important role in the anti-inflammatory effect of Echinacea preparations. Taxonomic, chemical, pharmacological, and clinical characteristics of some species of the Echinacea genus including E. angustifolia, E. pallida, and E. purpurea were reviewed in previous papers.[1,7] Medicinal properties of the plant were also considered in a review paper, which suggested that more research is required for more definitive medicinal recommendations. This paper is a review about E. purpurea: Its phytochemical contents and its pharmacological and biological activities, along with common methods of plant extract analysis. In addition, the psychoactive and mosquitocidal effects of the plant are mentioned in this paper. (Source:www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)