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Inula helenium - L.

Common Name Elecampane, Elecampane inula
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Allergic reactions. Potential to interfere with the treatment of diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure. Avoid if history of allergy [301].
Habitats Fields, waysides, waste places, copses etc[17], often on moist soils in shade[4].
Range S.E. Europe. Naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Inula helenium Elecampane, Elecampane inula


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Llez
Inula helenium Elecampane, Elecampane inula
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Llez

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Inula helenium is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Aster helenium. Aster officinalis. Corvisartia helenium. Helenium grandiflorum.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Meadow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root
Edible Uses:

Leaves - cooked. Rather bitter and aromatic[115], they were used as a potherb by the ancient Romans[183] but are rarely used at present. Root - candied and eaten as a sweetmeat[4, 7, 27, 105, 183]. It contains up to 44% inulin[46, 240]. Inulin is a starch that cannot be digested by humans. It usually passes straight through the digestive system, though it can ferment and cause wind problems for some people[K]. Inulin can be converted into a sugar that is suitable for diabetics to eat[238]. The Council of Europe list Inula helenium as a natural food flavouring.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Alterative  Anthelmintic  Antiseptic  Antitussive  Astringent  Bitter  Cholagogue  Demulcent  
Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Expectorant  Stimulant  Stomachic  Tonic

Elecampane has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. A gently warming and tonic herb, it is especially effective in treating coughs, consumption, bronchitis and many other complaints of the chest as well as disorders of the digestive system[4, 9, 254]. A very safe herb to use, it is suitable for the old and the young and especially useful when the patient is debilitated[254]. It cleanses toxins from the body, stimulating the immune and digestive systems and treating bacterial and fungal infections[238]. The root is alterative, anthelmintic, antiseptic, astringent, bitter, cholagogue, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, mildly expectorant, gently stimulant, stomachic, tonic[4, 7, 9, 21, 46. 165, 200, 218, 222]. It is best harvested in the autumn from plants that are two years old, and it can be dried for later use[4]. The roots should be at least 3 years old according to another report[7]. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238]. An extract of the plant is a powerful antiseptic and bactericide, particularly effective against the organism that causes TB[213, 238]. The root contains alantolactone, which is strongly anthelmintic. In a 1:1000 dilution it kills the parasitic worm Ascaris in 16 hours[218]. Alantolactone has an anti-inflammatory action, it also reduces mucous secretions and stimulates the immune system[254]. The plant is sometimes recommended as an external wash for skin inflammations and varicose ulcers, but has been known to cause allergic reactions[238].

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Other Uses

Dye  Essential

A blue dye is obtained from the bruised and macerated root mixed with ashes and whortleberries (Vaccinium myrtillus)[4, 46, 61]. The root yields up to 2% of a camphor-scented essential oil, this is used as a flavouring and medicinally[46, 61, 238].

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, it grows well in moist shady positions in ordinary garden soil, though it grows best in a good loamy soil[4]. Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil in a sunny position[1]. Plants are also tolerant of considerable neglect, succeeding on our Cornwall trial ground even when left unweeded for four years[K]. Elecampane has a long history of cultivation as a medicinal herb, though it is not commonly grown nowadays[4]. When first dug up, the roots smell like ripe bananas, but as they dry they take on the scent of violets[245].

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Propagation

Seed - sow in spring or autumn in a cold frame[4]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed, it could be worthwhile trying an outdoor sowing in situ in the spring. Division in spring or autumn[111]. Fairly small pieces of root can be used, so long as each piece has a growth bud on it[4]. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. Root cuttings in winter. Cut sections of root about 5cm long, place them in a warm greenhouse over the winter and they should grow away vigorously[4].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Inula britannicaXuan Fu Hua, British yellowhead03
Inula britannica chinensisXuan Fu Hua13
Inula cappaSheep's Ear02
Inula conyzaPloughman's Spikenard01
Inula crithmoidesGolden Samphire20
Inula racemosa 02
Inula royleana 01

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

17200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Goran Budija   Tue Mar 29 06:41:50 2005

Root can be used as incense!

S Forrester   Mon Mar 24 2008

According to the Wikipedia article on this plant, it has been shown to kill MRSA.

mar   Wed Aug 26 2009

As a potherb, what healing qualities do the leaves possess? (ie. similarities, but less strong, than the root? or any health outcomes known for the leaves? As I write, I'm making a Flower Essence of elecampane here in my Gardens. shining heartsmiles, sincere thanks, and abundant blessings to pfaf. :o) mar PS. i pass your site to other herbalists, and was so sad when I thought pfaf was no longer 'operational'. I tried contacting Ken Fern with no results. If possible, let me know who current contacts are and how things are going for you. thx

Lee   Wed Nov 25 2009

Has anyone used inula helenium for mrsa? what results were obtained and how specifically was it used. Thank you.

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