COMPOSITE FAMILY - Compositae: Elecampane; Horseheal; Yellow Starwort

Inula Helenium

Flower-heads--Large, yellow, solitary or a few, 2 to 4 in. across, on long, stout peduncles; the scaly green involucre nearly 1 in. high, holding disk florets surrounded by a fringe of long, very narrow, 3-toothed ray florets. Stem: Usually unbranched, 2 to 6 ft. high, hairy above. Leaves: Alternate, large, broadly oblong, pointed, saw-edged, rough above, woolly beneath; some with heart-shaped, clasping bases.

Preferred Habitat--Roadsides, fields, fence-rows, damp pastures.

Flowering Season--July-September.

Distribution--Nova Scotia to the Carolinas, and westward to Minnesota and Missouri.

The elecampane has not always led a vagabond existence. Once it had its passage paid across the Atlantic, because special virtue was attributed to its thick, mucilaginous roots as a horse medicine. For more than two thousand years it has been employed by home doctors in Europe and Asia; and at first Old World immigrants thought they could not live here without the plant on their farms. Once given a chance to naturalize itself, no composite is slow in seizing it. The vigorous elecampane, rearing its fringy, yellow disks above lichen-covered stone walls in New England, the Virginia rail fence, and the rank weedy growth along barbed-wire barriers farther west, now bids fair to cross the continent.