Elecampane Inula helenium

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care


Elecampane, known as Inula helenium, is a striking perennial herb that boasts large, fuzzy leaves with a deeply textured, ovate shape. The leaves are typically a rich green color with a slightly toothed edge and can differ in sizes, some having the capability of becoming quite substantial. This plant produces tall, robust stems that culminate in distinctive, daisy-like flowers. These blossoms are usually bright yellow with numerous elongated petals radiating around a prominent central disc. The yellow petals and darker yellow to orange central disc are characteristic features. The flowers have an attractive, raggedy appearance and are known to attract a variety of pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Below ground, elecampane has a thick, fibrous root system that is aromatic and often used in traditional practices for its perceived health benefits. This root system supports the lush above-ground growth. Overall, the appearance of elecampane is both striking and showy, with the large leaves forming a dense rosette at the base from which the flower-topped stems arise. Through the seasons, the foliage may change and eventually die back, but it is during the blooming period that elecampane truly displays its full splendor.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Elecampane, Horse-Heal, Elfdock, Velvet Dock, Scabwort, Marchalan, Aunée, Enule Campane, Inule Aulnée.

    • Common names

      Helenium grandiflorum, Inula britannica, Corvisartia helenium, Aster helenium, Inula magnifica

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Elecampane is not widely recognized as a highly toxic plant to humans. However, in sensitive individuals or when consumed in large quantities, it can potentially cause some adverse reactions due to its high content of inulin and sesquiterpene lactones which can irritate the digestive system. If ingested, this can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Additionally, it may trigger allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. As with any medicinal plant, it should be used with caution and ideally under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

    • To pets

      Elecampane is not typically listed as a toxic plant to pets, such as dogs and cats. However, as with humans, the plant contains compounds that can be irritating if ingested in large amounts. Pets consuming elecampane could potentially experience mild gastrointestinal upset including symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. The essential oils within the plant may also contribute to these effects. It is always best to prevent pets from ingesting plants not specifically intended for them, and if a pet does eat a substantial amount of elecampane or exhibits symptoms of distress, it is advisable to seek veterinary care.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      4-6 feet (1.2-1.8 meters)

    • Spread

      2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Culinary Use: Inula helenium, also known as elecampane, has a pungent taste and is used in small quantities to flavor foods, especially in certain European cuisines.
    • Gardening and Landscaping: Elecampane's tall stature and large, yellow flowers can be visually striking, making it a valuable ornamental plant in a garden or landscape design.
    • Wildlife Attraction: The flowers of elecampane attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which are beneficial for the pollination of other plants in the area.
    • Traditional Crafts: The root of elecampane can be used to make dyes and has been traditionally used for this purpose in various cultures.
    • Companion Planting: Elecampane is believed to be a good companion plant, potentially helping nearby plants by deterring certain pests with its strong aroma.
    • Soil Improvement: As a robust perennial, elecampane can help prevent soil erosion and improve soil structure as its roots break up compact soil and its foliage adds organic matter when it dies back.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Expectorant: Inula helenium, commonly known as elecampane, is often used for its expectorant properties to help clear respiratory tract mucus.
    • Antitussive: It is traditionally used to alleviate coughs.
    • Antimicrobial: The roots have been shown to contain compounds with antimicrobial activities against certain bacteria and fungi.
    • Antiparasitic: It has been traditionally used for treating intestinal parasites.
    • Carminative: Elecampane is said to relieve flatulence and soothe an upset stomach.
    • Diuretic: It has been used to promote urine production and relieve water retention.
    • Antifungal: Some constituents in the plant have shown antifungal properties.
    • Digestive aid: Herbalists have used elecampane as a tonic for supporting digestion.
    • Anti-inflammatory: Reports suggest that it may have anti-inflammatory effects that could help with conditions such as arthritis.
    • Immune system booster: It's believed to have immune-stimulating effects.
    • Astringent: The plant may have mild astringent qualities useful for skin conditions.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Inula helenium, commonly known as elecampane, is used as a natural dye for fabrics, offering a range of yellows and greens depending on the mordant used.
    • The plant can be used in permaculture design as an insectary plant, attracting beneficial insects to the garden for pest control.
    • Elecampane's large leaves can be used as mulch to suppress weeds and conserve soil moisture in garden beds.
    • Some cottage industries use the dried flowers and roots of elecampane in the creation of unique potpourris.
    • Elecampane root, due to its bitter taste, is sometimes included in the production of certain specialty liquors and aperitifs.
    • The plant has a history of being used as a natural preservative when added to food items, although this is less common today.
    • Historically, elecampane has been used in tanning to prepare animal hides, due to tannins present in the roots.
    • The fibrous stems of elecampane can be utilized in papermaking processes, adding texture and interest to handmade papers.
    • Gardeners may plant elecampane as a companion plant to improve the growth and health of nearby plants, although specific companion benefits are not well-documented.
    • Elecampane's robust growth habit and tall stature make it suitable as a natural windbreak or as part of a shelter belt in agricultural areas.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Elecampane is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Elecampane is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Protection - Inula helenium, commonly known as elecampane, has often been associated with protection, as it was traditionally used to ward off negative energies and spirits in ancient practices.
    • Health and Healing - Due to its medicinal properties, elecampane symbolizes health and healing. It has been used historically to treat various ailments, especially those related to the respiratory system.
    • Love and Banishing - In some folklore, elecampane is used in spells or rituals to either attract love or to banish that which no longer serves in a person's emotional life.
    • Endurance and Strength - The robust nature and hearty root system of elecampane signify endurance and strength, capable of thriving in challenging conditions and providing support and stability.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Elecampane should be watered deeply to encourage deep root growth, typically at least once a week providing about 1-2 inches of water. During dry spells or hot weather, water it twice a week. Be sure to allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions to prevent waterlogging. To avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases, water at the base of the plant early in the morning using a soaker hose or drip irrigation. In one month, you may need to use around 4-8 gallons of water depending on the weather conditions.

  • sunLight

    Elecampane thrives in full sun to partial shade. The best spot for this plant is in an area that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. However, it can also tolerate light afternoon shade, especially in regions with very hot summers.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Elecampane prefers moderate temperatures and grows well within a range of 50°F to 75°F. The plant can tolerate minimum temperatures down to about -30°F and maximum temperatures up to about 90°F. The ideal growing conditions for elecampane are in areas that have warm days and cool nights.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune elecampane in late winter or early spring to remove any dead or damaged foliage, which will encourage healthy new growth. It is also advisable to deadhead spent flowers during the blooming season to promote further blooming and prevent self-seeding if unwanted. If the plant becomes too large or overcrowded, divide it in the spring every few years.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Elecampane (Inula helenium) thrives best in a well-draining soil mix with a pH between 5.6 and 7.5. A combination of loamy soil, well-rotted compost, and sand or perlite to improve drainage is ideal for its growth. Ensure that the soil is fertile and moist, but never waterlogged, to promote healthy root systems.

  • plantRepotting

    Elecampane generally does not require frequent repotting and can be repotted every 2 to 3 years as the plant matures or if it outgrows its current pot. Use a larger pot with ample room for root growth and fresh soil mix to replenish nutrients.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Elecampane plants prefer moderate humidity levels but are quite adaptable and can tolerate a range of humidity conditions in the environment. No specific humidity requirements are necessary for this hardy perennial.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place elecampane in a bright spot with indirect light and good air circulation.

    • Outdoor

      Plant elecampane in sun to partial shade, enrich soil, water moderately.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Inula helenium, commonly known as elecampane, begins its life cycle as a seed, which germinates in the spring when soil temperatures and moisture levels are suitable. The seedling then develops into a rosette of basal leaves during its first year, focusing on building a strong root system. In its second year, elecampane produces a flowering stem that can reach up to 6 feet tall, with large yellow daisy-like flowers blooming from early to late summer. After pollination, typically by insects, the flowers produce seeds, which are then dispersed by wind or wildlife. Once the seeds are dispersed, the parent plant may die back, although elecampane is a perennial and may continue to grow and bloom for several years. The seeds that find a conducive environment start the cycle anew, perpetuating the species.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-early summer

    • Elecampane, or Inula helenium, is typically propagated by division, which is one of its most popular methods. This involves splitting the root clumps of mature plants in the spring or autumn. To propagate by division, the gardener should gently dig up the parent plant, taking care not to damage the roots. Once the plant is lifted from the soil, the clump should be carefully separated into smaller sections, ensuring that each section has at least one shoot and a portion of the root system. These divisions can then be replanted into prepared soil, spaced about 18 inches (approximately 45 centimeters) apart to accommodate for growth. They should be watered well after planting to help establish them in their new location.