A very ornamental plant, it is not very cold-hardy, tolerating short-lived lows down to about -10°c. It only succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of Britain. It grows very well in Cornwall where it often self-sows.
The flowers have a delicious sweet scent that pervades the air to a considerable distance.
The leaves contain saponins, but not in commercial quantities.
The leaves contain a strong fibre, used for making paper, twine, cloth, baskets, thatching, rain capes etc. The whole leaves would be used for some of these applications. When used for making paper, the leaves are harvested in summer, they are scraped to remove the outer skin and are then soaked in water for 24 hours prior to cooking.
Prefers a good sandy loam rich in humus. Succeeds in full sun or light shade. A very wind hardy plant, tolerating maritime exposure.
Root - baked. It can also be brewed into an intoxicating drink.
Pith of the trunk - dried and steamed until soft. Sweet and starchy, it is used to make porridge or a sweet drink. The root and stems are rich in fructose, the yields compare favourably with sugar beet (Beta vulgaris altissima).
Edible shoots - a cabbage substitute.