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Elecampane or Helenium grandiflorum is a striking perennial herb that is known by a variety of common names including 'Velvet dock', 'Scabwort', 'Elecampagne', 'Horseheal' and 'Horse elder.'
Elecampane has a thick, cylindrical rhizome and an upright furrowed stem that is hairy in the lower part and downy above. This stem holds oval, toothed, heart shaped leaves, and the single flowerheads grow at the ends of the branches in umbels. The plant flowers between June and October and the beautiful deep yellow of the large daisy-like flowers are a vibrant splash of colour.
Elecampane is a large herbaceous perennial originally from Europe and western Asia but now naturalised in Britain, and as it grows wild in hedgerows and damp meadows, it is clearly easy to cultivate and care for. Not requiring any particular growing conditions, this striking architectural plant is ideal for the garden, but is also cultivated for its rhizome, which is purported to have medicinal properties in the treatment of chest complaints.