Inula helenium

Elecampane root is respected as one of Europe’s strongest respiratory tonics. It has a warming aromatic smell and taste, with some bitterness, that helps to alleviate irritated, chesty coughs.

Native to southern Europe and Central Asia, elecampane was naturalised in the UK a very long time ago. It has often been found growing around ancient monastic sites, which points to its widespread use in early Christian times, and its remarkable ability to survive centuries of grazing by sheep! Also known as elfwort or elfdock, it has rich history in folklore, including – it is said – an old Celtic belief that the plant was inhabited by Elves. Keep an eye out in the garden.

Grown from seed, you’ll have to wait until the summer of the second year before it produces its large yellow daisy-like flowers. At its full height, the plant reaches around 150cm. It prefers partial shade but can tolerate full sunshine, and it thrives in heavier, moist soils. Harvest the roots from the autumn of the 2nd year.

Due to its shape and weight, this is one of the harder seeds to clean, so you may find a small amount of chaff with your seeds, but this will not affect germination.

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