ELECAMPANE HORSEHEAL YELLOW STARWORT
(Inula Helenium) Thistle family
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.
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.
"September may be described as the month of tall weeds;" says
John Burroughs. "Where they have been suffered to stand, along
fences, by roadsides, and in forgotten corners,- redroot,
ragweed, vervain, goldenrod, burdock, elecampane, thistles,
teasels, nettles, asters, etc. - how they lift themselves up as
if not afraid to be seen now! They are all outlaws; every man's
hand is against them yet how surely they hold their own. They
love the roadside, because here they are comparatively safe and
ragged and dusty, like the common tramps that they are, they form
one of the characteristic features of early fall."
Yet 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 over 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
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