Aromatic plants

Licorice helichrysum

Licorice helichrysum: a Mediterranean plant

Helichrysum, also called licorice helichrysum, is a shrubby plant that grows wild in Italy; in fact its Latin name, Helicrisum italicum, betrays its origins. This plant prefers poor, sandy and arid soils, and a Mediterranean climate: dry and hot summers and mild and not too wet and cold winters. Its thin branches are colored with yellow notes in spring, this is in fact the color of the flowers, and its leaves, of a mixed color between silver and green, are elongated, full-bodied and equipped with a small down: these are devices that make that the plant is resistant to both wind and sun. All this, together with the fact that it adapts very well to high salinity soils, allows us to see this shrub near the sea, along the sandy coasts of the whole Mediterranean.

How to grow the helichrysum

Due to its qualities of resistance to the sun, wind and drought, it is rather easy to grow the helichrysum, both on the ground and in pots. Propagation can take place by sowing or even by cuttings, in the latter case it is advisable to carry out the operation in the autumn period, before the winter rest. When choosing the place of sowing or transplanting it is good to remember to choose a place that is sunny, dry, where the soil is well drained, and not excessively calcareous; in fact the accumulations of water can be fatal for this plant. There is no need to prune, just a simple periodic removal of dead branches, cutting only if you want to keep a certain shape. The leaves and flowers can be collected and dried throughout the warm period, from mid-spring to mid-autumn.

The helichrysum in the kitchen: roasts, salads and risottos.

After touching the elongated leaves of the helichrysum with your hands, we will smell a mixed scent of licorice and curry. These aromatic notes make its use very versatile in the kitchen, despite being little used. It is an aromatic herb suitable for roasts, and in particular for chicken. The leaves, once dried and chopped, with their slightly exotic smell can be used in the preparation of risottos or to add a note of flavor to omelettes. It is important that they are dried because, if fresh, a bitter aftertaste could be perceived. They can be used in salads and as an addition to pancake dough. In the flowering period, which runs from April to September, helichrysum honey is obtained. The latter, produced along the Tuscan coast, where it is called beach honey,

helichrysum liquorice flowers” width=”745″ height=”559″ longdesc=”/orto/aromatiche/elicriso-liquirizia.asp”>The properties of the helichrysum are many. In cosmetics it is used to produce perfumes, bubble baths and creams for its emollient properties. Infusions and herbal teas made with helichrysum flowers have: relaxing, draining, anti-inflammatory properties; and in the spring, decoctions can relieve symptoms of grass allergy. In addition, it protects the tissues and the liver and stimulates blood circulation, therefore compresses are recommended in cases of chilblains or cold hands and feet. The name helichrysum derives from the Greek and means gold of the sun, this name derives from the bright yellow color of the flowers, flowers that retain their color and scent for a long time, even after being cut and left to dry. For this reason in many regions of Italy it is generically called with the name of everlasting or perpetual.

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