I like lamb’s ear plant, but mine died several years ago. One day, walking along the Confederation trail, I saw a plant on the edge of a bank that I thought must be lamb’s ear. It had soft, fluffy leaves and was about the right size. I took a leaf home to try to grow it. I put it in some water, but it didn’t grow, so I went back the next year to get a new one. This time I went with my mom. I showed her the plants on the bank and imagine my dismay when I saw that my ‘lamb’s ear’ had grown very tall and sprouted a stalk full of little yellow flowers. Well. I knew lamb’s ear flowers didn’t look like that. My mom, on the other hand, was quite excited. She told me that this was mullein and she had been looking for it all over and couldn’t find it anywhere. I still wasn’t impressed. We collected the flowers off of it and came back multiple times during the year, to get more since mullein grows new flowers every day.
In the first year, mullein grows just leaves from a center rosette. The next year, it grows a tall stalk of flowers. In its first year, mullein looks similar to lamb’s ear. Mullein is a hardy little plant; we dug one up that was growing in the middle of a walking trail and brought it home to grow in our garden. Even though it was living on the gravel trail, it didn’t mind our garden. It just needs full sun.
Mullein has lots of health benefits; it helps spastic coughing, chest colds, allergies, ear infections, and more. The leaves, flowers, and roots can all be used. The flowers can be made into ear oil by infusing them in carrier oil, such as olive oil. To use, apply three drops of warm oil in each ear. The leaves and flowers can be used in a salve to treat glandular congestion and swelling, and the leaves can be used in tea for coughs.
This tall, yellow-flowered plant is easy to notice so next time you are going for a walk, see if you can find one. If you do, don’t forget to collect some flowers and leaves to make tea, oil, or salve.
Written by Billy Turf
Reference: Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs