Inula conyza

Common Name: Ploughman's spikenard 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Central and southeastern Europe to northern Africa and western Asia
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant


Easily grown in calcareous, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Avoid full shade. Best in climates with cool summer temperatures. Propagate by seed or division of roots.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Inula conyza, commonly called ploughman's spikenard, is a rhizomatous, rosette-forming, sunflower-like biennial or perennial of the aster family that is native to Europe, the Caucasus, Iran and Algeria. It is commonly found on dry rocky cliffs and slopes in areas of stony, chalky, limestone soils (grows abundantly at the Cliffs of Dover in England), but is also found in dry, reasonably infertile, calcareous sites in open woods, grasslands, banks and scrubby areas. It typically matures to 3-4’ tall with a spread to 1-1.5’ wide.

Noteworthy features include: (1) thistle-like, rayless, tubular, dusky yellow flowers (disc florets only) in loose terminal umbel-like clusters which bloom July to September, with each flower surrounded by brownish-purple bracts, (2) basal rosettes of petiolate, ovate, foxglove-like lower leaves plus much smaller sessile, lanceolate, upper leaves which decrease in size from the basal rosette to the top of the central flowering stalk, (3) attractive brownish-purple flowering stalks which rise from the center of the basal rosette, and (4) pleasantly aromatic foliage and roots.

Roots were formerly used for a variety of purposes including disinfectant, insect repellant and perfume. Plants, including roots, were once hung from the ceilings of ploughman huts in England for purposes of sweetening the air.

Genus name is the Latin name for this plant.

Specific epithet comes from the Greek words konops meaning gnat or konis meaning dust in reference to a former practice of sprinkling powdered plant parts to kill fleas.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Areas with limestone soils. Cottage gardens.