Aug. 26, 2021

elecampane, Inula helenium

I came to know elecampane as an occasional roadside attraction you just couldn't miss, six feet tall with flower heads a couple of inches across. Turns out there's a lot more to it. We'll just paraphrase Rachelle Robinett from Bon Appetit. "Elecampane grows like it tastes, it's very bold, it opens fast, and has such a strong flavor it takes people time to like it. [There] is a small group of farmers, producers and chefs bringing this bitter but very-good-for-you herb into restaurant kitchens. In Brooklyn, Metta chef Norberto Piattoni is infusing it into a fluffy whipped cream that accompanies his ash dusted sweet potato dessert. The dish is nearly sweet, slightly bitter, and absolutely delicious. Back in Manhattan, chef Angela Dimayuga is tinkering with a tonic made from honey-soaked elecampane and preserved lemon that we can only hope makes it to the menu soon." This and many other articles reveal the benefits and delights of this traditional herb. It has been enjoyed for millennia, and also used as medicine to mostly treat throat and digestive problems. It now grows here in CA, CT, DE, IA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, BC, MB, NB, NS, ON, PE, and QC. Lenawee Co MI, 8/1/13. Aster family, Asteraceae.