Mullein is an easy to grow herb, often seen in disturbed areas such as fields and ditches. A multi-purpose herb, mullein offers many healing abilities from its flowers, leaves and root. Mullein is also a lovely addition to your landscaping. The stalk can grow 6 feet high, the leaves can grow up to 2 feet across. Try growing a beautiful specimen in an area that bees can enjoy the blossoms, and birds can eat the seeds. Please harvest wild mullein responsibly.
USDA Hardiness Zone:
Zone 3 - 9
Full to partial sun, dry soil
The leaves are usually gathered the first year, although the second year leaves seem to be as effective. The stalk and blossoms grow the second year. The flowers are harvested daily, as they open. The root is also harvested. The opinions vary on when the best time for this may be. Many believe that when the plant's energy is highest in the root: The first year, in the fall, would be optimal.
Mullein has a myriad of uses. Every part of the plant is used at different times in it's life cycle. The thick, soft leaves, are used to treat respiratory illness. They have been shown to loosen congestion and help clear the lungs. The tiny hairs on the leaves can be irritating, and any teas should be filtered very carefully to avoid this problem. A tincture would alleviate this issue, although it is extremely bitter.
Mullein flowers also provide a soothing and cleansing effect to the skin. As a wash, they are an easy treatment for minor wounds and scrapes. These same flowers can be picked throughout the growing season, placed in olive oil and left to infuse. The resulting infusion is wonderful for earaches that do NOT involve a ruptured eardrum. Add beeswax to the infused oil, and you will have a balm that makes a great addition to any baby's changing table. The delicate skin of a baby's diaper area can benefit from a light layer of this mullein balm.
Mullein root is used in urinary tract issues. The plant has a long taproot, making it difficult to harvest, and nearly impossible to transplant. When harvesting, be sure to use a spade and dig when the soil contains some moisture.
Finally, mullein is a wonderful indicator of a soil's contamination level. When looking for wild mullein, only harvest from straight, vigorous stalks. The crooked stalks indicate a high level of chemical contamination in the soil.
For more uses and ways to appreciate mullein, there is another article that expands on it's uses.