Inula helenium Asteraceae

Growth habit



Long-lived polycarpic perennial

Native distribution

Not Native to the Finger Lakes Region, Probably Native to Central Asia; Naturalized in Europe, Western Asia, Japan and N. America

Biocultural value

The roots were eaten as a vegetable or condiment by ancient Romans to aid digestion. Greek and Roman physicians prescribed it for treating a range of internal and external conditions. The roots contain helenin and tissue soothing mucilage which provide a very effective expectorant action when made into teas, cough syrups and throat lozenges.


Robison Herb Garden, McLean Bogs

Source of plant

Fedco Seeds, Alfred L. Boerner Botanical Gardens


Robust perennial reaching 6' in height, stems furrowed with spreading hairs; leaves irregularly toothed, nearly glabrous above, velvety-tomentose beneath, basal leaves elliptic, to 16" long on petioles to 12" long, stem leaves ovate-cordate, successively reduced upward, sessile, clasping; flower heads to 3 1/8" across, solitary or 2 to 3 in a cluster, flowers yellow.

USDA Hardiness Zone


Special characteristics

medicinal/pharmaceutical, food