Make mullein tea from your herb garden – Mother Earth News


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Mullein leaves make great doll blankets.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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The sturdy, erect mullein can reach seven feet tall and has large, pale green, lance-shaped leaves covered in a yellowish-white velvety carpet, topped by a dense spike of yellow sessile flowers with orange stamens.

ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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In the Appalachians, colds are treated with mullein tea, drunk, or used as a steamer.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF


Lately, more and more people have started to understand how limited our “modern” diets have become, both in terms of variety and nutritional value. This awareness sparked a new and widespread interest in the culinary and therapeutic uses of herbs, those plants which, although not well known today, were, just a generation ago, the “guests. Of honor on dinner tables and in pharmacies in our grandparents’ homes. In this regular article, MOTHER EARTH NEWS examines the availability, cultivation and benefits of our “forgotten” foods and herbal remedies and – we hope – helps prevent the loss of yet another piece of ancient knowledge.

Mullein Grass

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) may be known to you by one or more of its 30 common names. (Among them are the Velvet Quay, Aaron’s Rod, Adam’s Flannel, Jacob’s Staff, Blanket Sheet, Cow Lung, Candle Wick, Felt, Hare Beard, and the flannel flower.)

This Mediterranean native – which can be found in fields, pastures, and along roadsides across the United States – was well known to the early Greeks, who made wicks for lamps from its dried leaves and of the ancient Romans, who soaked its dried stalk. in tallow to produce funeral torches. Pliny noted that “figs do not rot at all when wrapped in mullein leaves”, and Roman ladies are said to have used an infusion of the flowers of the herb to add a golden hue to their hair.

If you want to try such a hair rinse, boil just 3-4 tablespoons of dried mullein flowers in a quart of water for 20-30 minutes, and strain the flowers when the mixture is cold. After shampooing, pour or brush the rinse through your hair several times until the desired shade is achieved.

Although officially known as the Weed, this prolific biennial is the grass of St. Fiacre – Ireland’s patron saint of horticulturalists – and makes a lovely garden or landscape addition. The plant – sturdy, erect, and up to seven feet tall – has large, pale green, lance-shaped leaves covered in a yellowish-white velvety carpet. Its straight stem is topped by a long, dense spike of yellow sessile flowers with orange stamens that bloom from June to September. The flowers have a light, pleasant scent that attracts bees.

Growing and using mullein

Propagation of mullein is usually done from seed, although you can transplant rootstocks or seedlings (18-24 inches apart) in your garden.

In its first year, the young plant will produce only a rosette of downy leaves, followed – in the second summer – by the long, flowering stalk. Young rosettes make beautiful bases for larger flower arrangements. Mullein prefers calcareous soil and a sunny position, but will thrive almost anywhere. However, due to its height, the grass must be either staked or sheltered from the wind. Once established, it will perpetuate itself by self-seeding.

Medicinal mullein

Although not useful as a food, mullein (believed to be an antispasmodic, diuretic, expectorant, softener, astringent, sedative, and non-narcotic pain reliever) has historically been used. used in many medicinal applications. Its dried leaves have been smoked, burned as incense, and used in steam to relieve congestion in the lungs. A fresh leaf, when wrapped around a bleeding finger, makes a good emergency dressing, and in the Appalachians colds are usually treated with mullein tea.

The flowers, if soaked in olive oil for about three weeks, produce an ointment that has been used to treat frostbite, chapped skin, hemorrhoids, and earaches and is believed to remove warts. rough if applied as a poultice.

The plant’s foliage can also serve as blotters, toilet paper, containers for vegetables when cooking in a fire pit, and “gloves” when picking thorny grasses like nettles. In pioneer days, Midwestern girls rubbed their faces with mullein ‘fur’ to make their cheeks red, and – even today – children find the large leaves make excellent blankets for children. doll beds!


For more helpful tips on how to grow and use herbs, see Grow calendula for your organic gardenand The refreshing borage herb.

Published on Sep 1, 1980


Terri S. Tomasini