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elecampane (ĕlˌəkămpānˈ) [key], hardy Old World herb, Inula helenium, of the family Asteraceae (aster family), naturalized in America and sometimes cultivated in gardens. It has showy yellow-rayed flowers and a thick root which was formerly regarded as a tonic and remedy for coughs and diseases of the chest. It was used in horse medicine, whence its popular name horse-heal. It was formerly classed in the genus Helenium (sneezeweeds), whose name derives from several traditions: one that Helen carried the flower when Paris took her to Troy; another that it sprang from Helen's tears; and a third that it was named for Helenus, a son of Priam. Elecampane is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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