Harvest the roots at the end of their 3rd or 4th year. They are easy to dig up but need a bit more effort to clean the soil off all the rootlets than the tap rooted E. angustifolia. As for cleaning the many architectural roots, a pressure washer can be handy here. Once thoroughly cleaned, cut into thin slices and lay out on a drying rack and dry at around 40C for 12-16 hours.
Sprinkle some fresh flower petals to brighten your food in the Summer.
For seasonal chills make a cup of tea with three-year-old roots (you can use a two-year-old root but it will be smaller). Steep 1-3g of the cleaned and dried root in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes – best with something warming like elderberries or ginger. You can also use a couple of fresh leaves in a cup made as above – best with something warming like elderberries or thyme.
Or you can make a tincture by macerating 1 part of dried root in 5 parts of 40% alcohol for a couple of weeks. Or if you prefer a fresh extract, you can use the whole root, aerial parts and flower head: start nearer 1:2.5 @75% alcohol.
Also useful in cough syrups.
Fantastic for echinacea honey.
Great to add to any herbal pills or lozenges you make.
Echinacea makes an excellent poultice or salve for wounds and infections.
One potential downside of the sesquiterpene lactones is that they can act as mild to potent allergens for susceptible individuals. Reported reactions have ranged from varying degrees of allergic contact dermatitis all the way up to severe anaphylaxis requiring emergency treatment. Because these compounds are so widely distributed among the Asteraceae, cross reactions can easily occur. A person might become sensitized to the sesquiterpene lactones in one plant (e.g., Ragweeds – Ambrosia spp.) and subsequently will have a reaction to a novel species (e.g., Chamomile or Yarrow) in the family. This is why the herbalist should be cautious when using Asteraceae herbs with people who have a tendency toward respiratory and contact allergies or problems with chronic eczema / atopic dermatitis.