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Posts Tagged ‘asteraceae’

When we were in England this past summer I took many photos of flowers. I used one of them for a Sunday Photos post, but could not seem to identify it.

I though it looked like it came from the aster family, but an internet search didn’t get me anywhere and I sort of gave up. It was pretty and that was enough.

A few days ago I was going through a stack of herb books reading and studying bits about Elderberry in preparation for a presentation in January (elderberry is herb of the year for 2012.) I was reading through the cold and flu section and ended up turning the page, making my way through hay fever and into lung congestion. Each page has a drawing of a different herb relevant to the topic.  I glanced at the drawing, went on to read a few words and went back to the drawing. That’s it! That was the flower!

Elecampane (Inula helenium)

Family: Asteraceae (formerly Comporitea)

Also known as: Yellow Starwort, Elfdock, Elfwort, Horse-elder, Horseheal, Scabwort,  Velvet Dock, Wild Sunflower, Indian Elecampane, Aster helenium, Anee, Helenium grandiflorum

  • Zones: 6-9
  • Perennial
  • Height: 3′ – 6′, but I have also seen references claiming 8′-10′
  • Bloom: will start blooming the second year
  • Prefers fairly rich, moist clay loam with an acid pH, full sun or partial shade (I’m going to guess that it would prefer some afternoon shade here in S. Texas)
  • Herb  -parts used: root/rhizomes
  • Native to: Southeastern Europe and western Asia, the herb has since been introduced to many temperate regions, including parts of North America

According to Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathi Keville, elecampane was used, up until, 1920, as a common flavoring in English sugar cakes and was itself sold as a candied treat. The book goes onto say that people with asthma would chew a piece every morning and evening, and people passing  by a polluted waterway would chew a piece of the root to keep their lungs from becoming irritates or infected.

I remember this beautiful flower (and now I know it is an herb) growing up against one of the walls at Sudeley Castle in England. I loved the contrast of its lush green leaves and bright yellow flowers against the beautiful old stone wall. Now that I have identified it, I will be looking for some seeds to plant some in my gardens.

Do you grow elecampane in your garden?

Sincerely, Emily

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