Elecampane, Julie’s (Organic)
Inula helenium. Perennial in zones 3-9.
One of the most highly regarded herbs of the Western herbal tradition and a very important part of the Pacific Northwest apothecary. The roots of elecampane are used for many ailments, especially respiratory issues including bronchial infections and chronic cough. We love having it in the garden because it is easy to grow and is a tough perennial that can become very large after a few years. The root is harvested in the autumn of the second year. Mentioned by Pliny the Elder, and named after Helen of Troy, it is said to have sprouted up from where her tears fell. Also revered as a sacred herb by the ancient Celts, who called it elfwort. An Irish study has found extracts of elecampane to be effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and to generally be highly antimicrobial. We have named this strain after our late friend Julie Mallalieu, who gave us the seed. She was a wonderful organizer of the Eugene Propagation Fair and other seed swaps in the area. We miss her.
Sow in pots in the early spring. Sow shallowly as germination is light dependent. Germination occurs after a week or two. Transplant at two foot spacing in full sun or part shade. The plants are very hardy and love our heavy wet soil.
Cut seed heads before every seed has shattered. Allow to after-ripen for a few days, then thresh by hand or by dancing. Dry thoroughly before storing.