Latin Name: Inula helenium
Plant Family: Asteraceae
Other Names: Inula , Wild Sunflower, Horseheal, Yellow Starwort, Scabwort, Velvet Dock, Elfdock, Elfwort, Enule Campagne, Enula Campana, Echter Alant, Grande Aunée, Helenio, Inule Aunée & Inule Hélénie.
Description: Elecampane is an herbaceous, perennial plant, native to central and northern Europe and northwest Asia, now found growing in North America which grows to a height of 1.5 metres. It Has an erect, stout, furrowed stem, which branches near the top. The leaves are alternate, ovate, pointed, and serrated along the edges, mid-green in colour on the upper surface, the under surface is covered in a velvety coating of fine white hairs, upper leaves are veined and 15-45cm in length. The flowers are borne as terminal heads of deep yellow rayed flowers with many fine petals which look similar to sunflowers and are 5-9cm in diameter.
Brief History: Candied elecampane root was once sold in England as a means of treating asthmatic conditions; Hippocrates recommended elecampane be used to treat skin conditions such as itching and skin eruptions and John Gerard in the 16th century recommended its use for treating ‘the shortness of breath’, there was also a belief that sucking on a piece of elecampane root could protect a person from poisonous vapours and foul air.
The Elizabethan’s were fond of candied elecampane root, it was a popular sweetmeat of the time, and the roots can be used to make teas and tisanes or lozenges for sore throats and coughs. The root can also be used to make a natural blue dye with the correct mordant.
Shelf life of two years provided that goods are stored in an airtight container in ambient conditions.