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Inula helenium

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Treasureflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White African Daisy, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
2.5 metres tall
Fields, gardens, meadows, parks, roadsides, wasteland, wetland, woodland.

Yellow, many petals
Large yellow, daisy-like flowers, 6 to 9cm across. The many petals are very narrow. Up to 100 ray florets and 250 disc florets. Pollinated by bees, butterflies and moths.
A bristly achene (seed) with hairs at one end. The seeds ripen in August and September.
Narrowly elliptical, blunt, alternating leaves, up to 2 foot long. The uppermost leaves are shortest and broadest. Hairy beneath the leaves. The hairs are white. The lower leaves only are stalked. Perennial.
Other Names:
Allicampane, Elf Dock, Elf Wort, Horse Elder, Horse Heal, Scabwort, Wild Sunflower, Yellow Starwort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Inula helenium, also known as elecampane, is a species of flowering plant in the sunflower family. It is native to Europe and Asia and can be found in a variety of habitats, including meadows, forests, and wetlands. The plant is known for its large, yellow flowers that bloom in the summer and early fall, as well as its deep taproot. Elecampane has been used in traditional medicine for centuries and is still used today by some people for a variety of purposes, including as a treatment for respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and asthma, as well as for digestive problems and skin conditions. However, it is important to note that the safety and effectiveness of using elecampane for medicinal purposes have not been thoroughly studied and it is not recommended for use as a medicine without the guidance of a healthcare professional.


Elecampane (Inula helenium) is a medicinal herb that has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine. The plant, which is native to Europe and Asia, has a long history of use in traditional remedies for respiratory and digestive disorders. In recent years, scientific research has begun to explore the potential health benefits of elecampane and its active compounds, which include alantolactone and inulin.

One of the primary traditional uses of elecampane is for respiratory disorders, such as bronchitis and asthma. The plant is believed to have expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties that help to relieve coughs and loosen phlegm. In traditional remedies, elecampane root is often used to make a tea or syrup that is taken orally to treat respiratory symptoms.

In addition to its use in respiratory disorders, elecampane has also been used to treat digestive problems. The plant's active compounds, including alantolactone and inulin, are believed to have anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory effects on the digestive system. This makes elecampane a useful herb for treating digestive disorders such as indigestion, colic, and bloating.

Recent scientific studies have also explored the potential health benefits of elecampane and its active compounds. For example, in vitro and animal studies have shown that elecampane has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. These properties make elecampane a promising candidate for the development of new treatments for infectious diseases.

Elecampane is also being studied for its potential to support immune function. Research has shown that elecampane can help to stimulate the production of white blood cells and improve the activity of immune cells. This suggests that elecampane may be useful for enhancing immunity and protecting against infections.

Elecampane (Inula helenium) is a medicinal herb with a rich history of use in traditional medicine. Its active compounds, including alantolactone and inulin, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and antibacterial properties. With ongoing scientific research, the potential health benefits of elecampane are becoming increasingly clear, making it an exciting and promising herb for the future of medicine.

Elecampane is a hardy perennial plant that grows to a height of up to five feet and produces large, yellow flowers in the summer. The plant's thick, fibrous root is the part that is traditionally used for medicinal purposes. Elecampane is relatively easy to grow and can be found in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America.

When using elecampane as a medicinal herb, it is important to use only the root of the plant, as other parts of the plant can be toxic. The root should be harvested in the fall or early spring, when the plant's active compounds are at their highest concentration. The root can be dried and used to make teas, syrups, and tinctures, or it can be used fresh in various herbal preparations.

Although elecampane is generally considered safe when used in recommended doses, it is important to note that the plant may have some side effects. For example, elecampane can cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some individuals. It may also interact with certain medications, so it is important to speak with a healthcare provider before using elecampane if you are taking any prescription medications.

Elecampane (Inula helenium) is a valuable and versatile medicinal herb that has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine. Its potential health benefits are wide-ranging, and modern scientific research is beginning to validate many of the traditional uses of the plant.

In addition to its medicinal properties, elecampane has also been used in traditional culinary practices. The plant's root has a slightly bitter, licorice-like flavor, and has been used as a flavoring in recipes for sweets, such as candies, syrups, and liqueurs. It is also used to flavor various savory dishes, such as soups and stews.

Elecampane is also known for its ability to attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, making it an attractive addition to any garden. In fact, the plant's Latin name, "Inula helenium," is derived from the Greek word "helios," which means "sun," and is a reference to the plant's bright yellow flowers.

In terms of its nutritional content, elecampane root is a good source of dietary fiber and contains important minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. Additionally, the plant is rich in antioxidants, which help to protect cells against damage from free radicals.

It is important to note that while elecampane has been used safely for thousands of years, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare provider before using any new herb or supplement. This is especially true if you have any pre-existing health conditions or are taking any prescription medications.

In conclusion, elecampane (Inula helenium) is a versatile and valuable plant with a long history of use in traditional medicine, cooking, and gardening. Whether you are looking to enjoy its delicious flavor, reap its potential health benefits, or simply admire its beautiful flowers, elecampane is definitely a plant worth exploring.


Elecampane filmed at Glasson Dock, Lancashire on the 30th July 2023.


Music credits
Hand Trolley by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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