Weed Weekly – Mullein

Verbascum thapsus

I have heard this wonderful plant described as “Indian Toilet Paper”.  I am a little bit horrified to think of using such an incredibly medicinal and beneficial plant in such a way, although…the leaves are very soft.
Regardless, I shudder a little when I think about it.

Mullein is a common sight here in Colorado. It grows a tall stock that features yellow flowers in the spring and fall.  The leaves are edible and taste a little bit like artichokes, in my opinion.  They are great on salads.

These plants can get huge!  I had one growing in a crack of our driveway that was over 6 ft. tall.  I find that astonishing because it had such little root room but thrived regardless.  Here is a picture of him when he was in his 2nd year of growth.


What are its many benefits that I have been raving about but not elaborating upon, you ask?
Well, Mullein is a….

* Demulcent – creates a soothing film
* Anti-viral
* Mild diuretic/laxative
* Relaxing Expectorant – calms cough spasms and loosens phlegm
* Emollient – soothing to the skin
* Vulnerary – helps heal wounds
a Mild Sedative = sleepy time

The benefits of mullein upon your lungs are even observed when the herb is dried and smoked!  It has often been incorporated into quit-smoking blends to help individuals ween off smoking cigarettes and aid in lung healing.

I much prefer mine in tea form, however.  Mullein has a light sweetness and delicate herbal flavor to it.  It is a wonderful tea on its own but also adds extra nutrition to regular peppermint teas or other herbal mixtures.

The best part is that mullein grows basically all over the United States.  It likes dry, warm, sunshiny areas such as meadows and rocky slops.  I often find it near roadsides, although if you can find it a little ways off it is better and much cleaner.  Mullein seeds are easy to propagate if you happen to want to grow some, just make sure they do not get covered or snubbed out by other plants.  They grow readily but aren’t invasive.

Mullein is fairly easy to identify because of its size, textures and flowering.  A common look-a-like is Lamb’s Ear, however it doesn’t grow as large and doesn’t present the tall flowering stock.  Mullein also has lighter green leaves than the pale gray leaves of Lamb’s Ear.

Anyway, if you spot this one, grab a few leaves.  They can be brewed fresh or dried and taste wonderful.  It is a good idea to keep this on hand if you suffer from coughing fits, bronchitis, asthma, or if you smoke cigarettes.  All in all, not a bad idea to have around.  So don’t pass it up!

Take care.


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