Elecampane Inula helenium L.*
The Elecampane is a perennial herbaceous plant of the Compositae family. the rhizome is fleshy, usually multi-headed from the bottom, with a few thick roots, and the upper few stems. The stems are up to 2 m tall, erect, slightly branched, covered with soft hairs. The basal leaves are numerous very large, with handles up to 6 - 8 cm wide and oblong. The upper leaves are smaller, covering the stem. Flowers are numerous, golden-yellow. The whole plant, and most roots have a strong specific smell. Blooms in late spring and summer.
In Bulgaria Elecampane we meet in the wet shady places along the forest stream, more in the mountains with over 1000 m above sea level.
Roots with rootstocks (Radix Helenii) are used. Picking in September - November or March - April. The fleshy roots are digested, along with the roots as late as possible in the autumn or in the early spring.
In folk medicine Elecampane is used as a urinary and coughing agent for gastrointestinal diseases. The essential oil contained in the herb has anti-inflammatory and proto-glove activity.