Helichrysum italicum syn H. angustifolium
Also known as Italian strawflower and Immortelle. Please note that although this plant has a strong curry fragrance, is is not the the Asian tree Murraya koenigii, the leaf of which is actually used to give curries their flavour.
Helichrysum italicum is a low growing shrub from dry rocky areas of the Mediterranean and southern Europe. It has silver needle shaped stongly aromatic leaves and looks a little like lavender. However the flowers are yellow and borne in clusters. They retain their colour after picking and are used in dried flower arrangements. They are also loved by bees and butterflies.
Despite its bitter taste and many sources stating it is not edible, it is reputedly an important herb for seasoning lamb and goat sausage, stews and some fish dishes, especially on the island of Sardinia but also Malta and other smaller Mediterranean islands. Typically the new green tops of fresh growth are pinched off and added to cooking stews and meat preparations, and usually then removed before serving the finished dish. The flavor will vary widely depending on what variety and soil type the plant was growing in.
Helichrysum is a common, traditionally used medicine in the region in which it grows. It reportedly has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. The oil can be found in all green parts of the plant, including stems and leaves. It can be rubbed on the skin to relieve inflammation and infection, and burnt in a diffuser to relieve cold symptoms. Helichrysum oil is often used to prevent signs of aging and referred to as “The Everlasting Flower” because of its rejuvenating benefits for the skin and ability to improve the complexion. Dried flowers from the plant can also be used for medicinal purposes.
Helichrysum enjoys well drained soil in a sunny position and is very drought hardy once established. It can tolerated winds, and frost down to -10 degrees. Height and spread approx 60cm.
Certified organic plant
Photo credit: main image https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helichrysum_italicum#/media/File:Helichrysum_italicum_flowers.jpg,; others Kahikatea Farm