Inula helenium L. - Elecampane, Horse-heal.

Taxonomic position.

Family Asteraceae Dumort. genus Inula L.

Morphology and biology.

Large herbaceous perennial 0.6-2.5 m tall with thick rhizome and numerous fleshy roots. Stem thick, erect, sulcate, shortly branched in upper part. Leaves alternate, scabrous, grey-tomentose beneath. Radical leaves large, up to 50 cm long and 25 cm wide, elliptic, narrowed into petiole. Cauline leaves lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, middle ones short-petiolate, upper ones amplexicaul. Flowers yellow, aggregated in calathids 6-8 cm diameter located at shoot ends. Ray florets in calathids ligulate, female; disc florets tubular, bisexual. Inner involuclal bracts broadened upwards, obtuse, spatulate, scarious, smooth; outer ones shorter, ovate, herbaceous, grey-tomentose. Fruits quadrangular brown achenes with pappus of one row of dirty-white finely notched hairs, the latter twice as long as achene.
Entomophilous. Flowers in June - September, fruits in August - October. 2n=20.


European Russia (central and southern regions), West Siberia (northern Altai-Sayans montane massifs), Europe, South Asia, Mediterranean, Caucasus, Central Asia.


Mesohygrophyte. Occurs at river and brook banks, forest ravines, in forest fringes, glades, shrubberies, in meadows. In mountains reaches 2,000 m a.s.l. Due to the fact that elecampane was quite often cultivated as a medicinal and ornamental plant, it now occurs in some regions of the forest zone as escaped or remained after cultivation.

Use and economic value.

Widely known medicinal plant. Used as a stock are rhizomes with roots. Used as expectorant to treat bronchitis, pneumonia and other upper respiratory tract diseases. Also, tablets "Alantan" to treat gastric and duodenal ulcer are made from subterranean organs. Fresh or dry rhizome with roots is used as a spice. Elecampane is considered a dietic healthy product to add in soups, vegetable dishes, porridge. It is cultivated in Europe and USA to use the rhizomes in confectionery produce (candies etc.), wine aromatization (vermouth), in fish industry, etc.


Gubanov IA., Kiseleva KV., Novikov VS., Tikhomirov VN. 2004. Illustrated Manual of the Middle Russia Plants. V.3. Moscow: KMK. 520 p. (In Russian).
Plant resources of the USSR: Flowering plants, their chemical composition and utilization. 1993. Asteraceae (Compositae). St.Petersburg.: Nauka. 352 p. (In Russian).
Krasnoborov IM., ed. 1997. Flora of Siberia. V.13: Asteraceae (Compositae). Novosibirsk: Nauka. 472 p. (In Russian).
Kinzikaeva GK., ed. 1988. Flora of Tadzhik Soviet Socialist Republic. V.9. Leningrad: Nauka. 568 p. (In Russian).

© I.G.Chukhina

© Photo by L.V.Bagmet

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