The genus name is derived from the Greek word Helis – sun and Chrisos – gold (golden – yellow flower color). The geographical area on which the Immortelle thrives includes the coast area of Spain, Corsica, Southern Italy, all of Dalmatia, Herzegovina, Montenegro.
The genus Helichrisum, or Immortelle, as it is popularly called, encompasses 600 species, the most famous being Helichrysum italicum, which also has several varieties. The Immortelle is a perennial, herbaceous plant, a half-bush, with a greyish stem color that comes from an abundance of woolly hairs. In the natural habitat, the stems are about 40 cm high, and up to 80 cm high under growing conditions. At the top of the stem there are several floral, tight, clustered heads with golden yellow flowers. All branches end in bloom. The upper flowers have shorter stems and the lower ones longer so that the flowers are approximately in the same plane. After fertilization, the flowers ripen quickly, and the flower lodge opens and spills the seeds. The seeds are very small, elongated in shape, dark to black in color and spread in the wind. It blooms from June to September. The flower of Immortelle contains flavonoids, narinengine, helichrysin, apigenin. The top part of the plant with flowers is used for medicinal purposes. Immortelle has a very good effect on the bile and pancreas, i.e. it enhances their secretion. Some consider it the best herb for boosting liver function. The flower has a calming effect in addition to its phytoncidal effect. It is also often used as an adjunct to other teas to repair color. Immortelle has come into cosmetic use thanks to its intoxicating sweet odor, which has the ability to suppress the scents of all other ingredients. The essential oil of Immortelle has got the reputation of having the power to erase the traces of time on the face that is, today’s vocabulary – works against wrinkles, revitalizes and regenerates tired and mature skin exposed to external and internal influences. A lesser-known feature of Immortelle is its incredible impact on hematomas, scars, stretch marks, as well as various inflammations on the skin.
Immortelle is a plant with a dry and warm climate. Immortelle /Helichrysum italicum/ grow wild in the hottest coastal terrain. The whole plant is resistant to low temperatures and can withstand long droughts very well. This allows it to thrive on fields with little moisture, even in the hottest karst.
The Immortelle is propagated in a number of ways: generative – seed propagated through seedling production and vegetatively – by dividing older bokors, cuttings and scarred shoots.
The harvesting of the Immortelle is done at full technological maturity, which is the phase when the largest number of plants are in bloom. The harvest is done by cutting off the inflorescence above the first leaves. The essential oil distillation, Immortelle is cut to a length of about 15 cm above the ground. For flower production, harvesting should take place when one-third of the flowers are open and then the golden yellow color is most intense. During this period, the harvested flowers have 65% moisture.
Like all plants with essential oil, the Immortelle must be dried at a temperature of 40-45 C in dryers or naturally in a protected and permeable area.
The essential oil is obtained by distillation by means of water vapor from the pre-treated raw material. The percentage of oil depends on the composition of the soil, the climate, the number of sunny days, the moment of harvest. Immortelle should be distilled as soon as possible after picking. The expected yield of essential oil varies from 8 to 12 kg / ha.
Creams made with essential oil of Immortelle not only nourish dry and mature skin perfectly, but also restore the necessary moisture to keep skin fresh, smooth and soft. In addition, they revitalize, protect and rejuvenate. Creams are rich in antioxidants that protect against free radicals in a way that prevents premature aging.
During the research work on realization of the project of introduction into organic production of Immortelle seedlings of, for which “Ljekobilje” Ltd. won the first prize in the competition for the best technological innovation, it turned out that Ljubinje and Herzegovina have better climatic and pedological conditions for the cultivation of seedlings than the European known Provence or Corsica in France. With this innovation, a new technology was adopted with the aim of establishing as many plantations as possible, which would provide a greater amount of raw material and offset the natural deficit, that is, ensure the quantity, quality and continuity, which is the basis of any production.