Botanical Name: Inula helenium Family: Compositae

Common name(s): Scabwort, Elf dock, Horseheal


  • Perennial | Zones 4 – 9 | 4 – 5 feet | Large golden yellow flowers in July – August
  • Full sun to partial shade | Damp soil
  • Sow from seed or propagation, in autumn, from a root with an bud/eye for each new plant. Plant 10-12 inches apart, keep weeded.


  • Harvest roots in the autumn of the second year.
  • In the autumn of the first year of growth, slightly dig up the plant, it will help promote growth of the roots. Harvest the following year.


Decoction: Boil 1 ounce of dried root in 1 pint water, and let steep for 20 minutes. Take 1 cup, 3x / day.

Tincture: 10-30 drops 3x / day.

Can also be made into a syrup and the roots can be candied.


Constituents: Inulin

Actions: anticatarrhal, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic,  emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant,  tonic

Uses: Respiratory complaints, including asthma and bronchitis, chronic coughs and mucus, digestive weakness.


  • Sweet, acrid, bitter, warm


An interesting tidbit from A Modern Herbal says that Elecampane is the richest source of inulin, which is similar in composition to starch (but is not starch). Grieve also presents how this herb was historically used – the name Scabwort comes from using it to treat sheep infected with scab and Horseheal for curing some diseases found in horses. Although I have her books (there are two volumes, this incredible resource is online, too).

An interesting tidbit from Indian Herbology of North America says that inulin is used to decrease excess sugar in the blood.

And I’m really excited because I have some seeds of Elecampane from an herbalist friend to plant next year, and a nice shady damp spot to put it in!