In order to study the effect of water deficit and foliar application of salicylic acid and spermine on the phenological stages and caffeic acid derivatives yield of Echinacea purpurea L., a three replicated split- plot experiment was conducted based on a randomized complete block design during 2016 and 2017 growing seasons at the research field of Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands, Iran. In this experiment, three irrigation regimes (irrigation after 20, 40 and 60% depletion of soil available water) were accommodated in main plots and salicylic acid (SA) and spermine (SPM) spray treatments (Control (no spray), spray at five levels of 75 mg/l SA, 150 mg/l SA, 75 mg/l SPM, 75 mg/l SA+75 mg/l SPM and 150 mg/l SA+75 mg/l SPM) were considered in subplots. The exogenous SA and SPM were applied on the foliage at two steps, 10-days apart and at the beginning of stem elongation stage. The effects of irrigation regime and spray treatments were significant on the traits studied. Drought stress decreased the number of days to phenological stages, the yield of echinacoside and cynarin in flower and cichoric acid, and caftaric acid and cynarin in leaves, but increased the yield of chlorogenic acid in flowers and caffeic acid derivatives (cichoric acid, echinacoside, chlorogenic acid, caftaric acid and cynarin) in roots. The foliar application of salicylic acid and spermine increased all studied traits. The interaction between water deficit and foliar spray was significant on the yield of caffeic acid derivatives in roots. The highest yield of cichoric acid (9.49 kg/ha), echinacoside (0.67 kg/ha), chlorogenic acid (0.26 kg/ha), caftaric acid (7.31 kg/ha) and cynarin (0.27 kg/ha) in roots was obtained at irrigation after 60% depletion of soil available water and simultaneous application of high concentrations of SA and SPM. Based on the results of the present study, the foliar application of SA and SPM improved the yield of caffeic acid derivatives in coneflower under both normal and water stress conditions.
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