Helichrysum: gold and sunshine captured in a seedling.
Sea, sun, sand, wind. Shells and sea salt, surf and heat. And then, your senses pick up a hint of licorice in the air around the dunes. You’ll think that a child is sucking on a bag of mouth-watering sweets or licking an ice cream or even chewing one of those sticks that turns your mouth black. Helichrysum, that’s where the smell comes from.
Silver green tufts with dried yellow flowers: flowerheads that offer a thousand benefits. Golden yellow in spring, reddish brown in summer when the sun consumes them. A scent of curry and licorice, to crumble with dry hands and scent cupboards, bed sheets and linens at season’s change. You can find it in the fishing legends, in Sicily and Sardinia or in ancient remedies, that teach you how to make herbal teas that treat coughs and colds.
Use it to get a blaze going in the fireplace when your wood is wet or to make wreaths for the dead, or for magic potions to find a husband or have children. Hung in the kitchen it deodorizes the room for months on end; distil it and it’s a drink for after dinner – a bitter digestive, good for the body and able to loosen the tongues of tired shepherds. You can find it on cliffs and on beaches, in arid areas where the sun always beats. Bushes and clumps that are seen a thousand times but never noticed. But … if you sniff them, then yes, you’ll understand this flower and its purpose.
This little flower pulls no punches. Time has given it so many nicknames but there is only one true name: Helios as in the Sun and Chrysos as in Gold.
Name: Helycrisum italicum – Family: Asteraceae – Trivia: Perpetuino, Sempiternu, Everlasting Flower: nicknames that testify to its remarkable persistance.
The mosaics of Magda. Puzzles of wonder.