Japanese Elecampane

A genus of about 90 species of mainly perennials and subshrubs, which is distributed across warm and temperate parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Many are grown in rock gardens and borders for their showy, daisy-like flowers. Several species are used medicinally and as dye plants. Inula helenium is a giant, summer-flowering species that provides a focal point in the herb garden. Though long used in European herbal medicine, and widely naturalized in Europe and N America, I. helenium is Asian in origin. Known as pushkaramula in Ayurvedic medicine, it is highly regarded as a lung tonic and analgesic. Inula helenium contains up to 44 percent inulin, a slightly sweet polysaccharide, which is of little food value but often recommended to diabetics as a sweetener. Inula is the Latin name used by Horace for the plant. The common name "elecampane" is thought to be a corruption of the Medieval Latin enula campana, "Inula of the fields". Other species used include: the shrubby I. cappa, a popular remedy in S China for bronchial and rheumatic complaints, migraines, and skin infections; and the Himalayan I. racemosa (poshkar), whose aromatic roots protect fabrics from insect damage and have antiseptic, anthelmintic, expectorant, and diuretic properties. The fleshy leaves and shoots of I. crithmoides (golden samphire) are eaten locally in Europe as a substitute for rock samphire (Crithmum maritimum See, rock samphire).

Herbaceous perennial with stalkless, lanceolate to oblong leaves, to 10cm (4in) long, and yellow, daisy-like flowers, about 5cm (2in) across, in summer.

Common Name:
Japanese Elecampane
Other Names:
Yellow Starwort
Botanical Name:
Inulu britannica var chinensis syn. I. japonica
Moist, well-drained soil in sun.
By seed sown in spring or autumn; by division in spring.
Roots are lifted in autumn and distilled for oil, used fresh to make extracts and syrup, or dried for decoctions, liquid extracts, powders and tinctures. Flower heads are picked when fully open and dried whole for use in decoctions (prepared using a muslin bag to contain irritant fibers), infusions and powder.
Native Location:
China, Japan, Manchuria, and Korea
20-60cm (8-24in)
50cm (20in)
Parts Used:
Flowers (xuan fu hua)
A bitter, pungent, anti-bacterial herb that stimulates the digestive system, is expectorant, and controls vomiting.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for bronchial complaints, with profuse phlegm, nausea and vomiting, hiccups, and flatulence. Combined with honey as an expectorant, and with Glycyrrhiza glabra (See, licorice) and Zingiber officinale (See, ginger) for digestive problems characterized by excess mucus.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown. Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pg 243