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Inula, the Latin classical name for the plant, is considered to be a corruption of the Greek word Helenion which in its Latinized form, Helenium, is also now applied to the same species. There are many fables about the origin of this name. Gerard tells us: 'It took the name Helenium of Helena, wife of Menelaus, who had her hands full of it when Paris stole her away into Phrygia.' Another legend states that it sprang from her tears: another that Helen first used it against venomous bites; a fourth, that it took the name from the island Helena, where the best plants grew.
Erba dei dolori, Liolà, Antiveleno, viola campana, Enula elenio
Margaita sarvaiga, erba dij dolour
Clarke Dict.:Tincture of fresh root dug in autumn of the second year.
(The juice of the root was proved.)
Asteraceae; Compositae; Inula
Clarcke Dict.:The homeopathic knowledge of it is due to Fischer, who proved the root-juice.
Description of the substance
Elecampane is one of our largest herbaceous plants. It is found widely distributed throughout England, though can scarcely be termed common, occurring only locally, in damp pastures and shady ground. It is probably a true native plant in southern England, but where found farther north may have originally only been an escape from cultivation, as it was cultivated for centuries as a medicinal plant, being a common remedy for sicknesses in the Middle Ages. When present in Scotland, it is considered to have been introduced. Culpepper says:
'It groweth in moist grounds and shadowy places oftener than in the dry and open borders of field and lanes and other waste places, almost in every county in this country, but it was probably more common in his days, cultivation of it being still general.'
It is found wild throughout continental Europe, from Gothland southwards, and extends eastwards in temperate Asia as far as Southern Siberia and North-West India. As a plant of cultivation, it has wandered to North America, where it has become thoroughly naturalized in the eastern United States, being found from Nova Scotia to Northern Carolina, and westward as far as Missouri, growing abundantly in pastures and along roadsides, preferring wet, rocky ground at or near the base of eastern and southern slopes.
---Description---It is a striking and handsome plant. The erect stem grows from 4 to 5 feet high, is very stout and deeply furrowed, and near the top, branched. The whole plant is downy. It produces a radical rosette of enormous, ovate, pointed leaves, from 1 to 1 1/2 feet long and 4 inches broad in the middle velvety beneath, with toothed margins an borne on long foot-stalks; in general appearance the leaves are not unlike those of Mullein. Those on the stem become shorter andrelatively broader and are stem-clasping.
The plant is in bloom from June to August. The flowers are bright yellow, in very large, terminal heads, 3 to 4 inches in diameter, on long stalks, resembling a double sunflower. The broad bracts of the leafy involucre under the head are velvety. After the flowers have fallen, these involucral scales spread horizontally, and the removal of the fruit shows the beautifully regular arrangement of the little pits on the receptacle, which form a pattern like the engine-turning of a watch. The fruit is quadrangular and crowned by a ring of pale-reddish hairs - the pappus.
The plant springs from a perennial rootstock, which is large and succulent, spindleshaped and branching, brown and aromatic, with large, fleshy roots.
L'enula campana o elenio è una pianta erbacea perenne, a fusto eretto, ramificato solo all'infiorescenza. Le foglie, specie quelle radicali,di notevoli dimensioni, raggiungono anche la lunghezza di mezzo metro. I fiori, capolini radi all'estremità del fusto, sono piuttosto grandi e di colore giallo. Il nome "helenium" deriva dalla leggenda secondo cui la pianta sarebbe nata dalle lacrime di Elena, moglie di Menelao, a causa della guerra di Troia.
L'enula detta anche "antiveleno", viene esaltata nell'antichità da Dioscoride e Plinio. Magnificata nel Rinascimento da Santa Ildegarda e Mattioli. Apprezzata dalla Scuola Salernitana ("Enula campana reddit praecordia sana"), viene usata con successo da Deleni (1836) come emmenagoga per amenorrea, irregolarità mestruali e leucorrea, raccomandata da E. Chabrol e J. Chevalier nell'oliguria e nella patologia biliare, considerata da Valnet una delle piante più preziose.