Mullein is a biennial that grows from 1 to 8 feet high. The leaves are large, oval, and flannel-like, hence the names Flannel flower, Velvet dock, and Velvet plant. The flowers are yellow in long spikes. The flower stalk does not develop until the second Mullein Flowers
year. In the first year, the large, woolly leaves develop and persist over the winter. Both the leaves and the blossoms have medicinal uses.
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Snapdragon family)
Other Names: Aaron’s rod, Lady’s foxglove, Donkey’s ears, Blanket leaf, Flannel flower, Jacob’s staff, Velvet dock, Velvet plant
Flowers: July – September
Parts Used: Leaves and flowers
Habitat: Poor soils. Common throughout our area.
Ancient cultures around the world considered Mullein a magical protector against witchcraft and evil spirits. Like other herbs used in magic, Mullein has a long history as a healer. Its botanical family name, Scrophulariaceae, is derived from scrofula, and old term for chronically swollen lymph glands, later identified as a form of tuberculosis.
The Greek physician Dioscorides prescribed a decoction of mullein root in wine as a treatment for “lask and fluxes of the belly” (diarrhea). During the Middle Ages, the French used the herb to treat Malandre, and animal disease that produces boils on horses’ necks. Malandre eventually became Malen, and finally Mullein.
Constiuents: Saponins, mucilage, gum, volatile oil, flavonoids, glycosides.
Properties: Anodyne, Antispasmodic, Demulcent, Diuretic, Expectorant, Vulnerary.
Main Uses: Respiratory disorders.
Mullein combines the expectorant action of its saponins with the soothing effect of its mucilage, which swells and becomes slippery as it absorbs water. This probably accounts for its soothing action on the throat. This a most useful herb for the treatment of hoarseness, tight coughs, bronchitis, asthma, and whooping cough. A tea of the flowers can be used as a sedative for insomnia.
Mullein is also a diuretic, helping to allay inflammation of the urinary system and counter the irritating effect of acid urine. The flowers soaked in olive oil for several days has been used for earache as eardrops and rubbed into rheumatic joints to ease the pain. Mullein leaves make an excellent poultice for boils and sores.
Infusions of the leaves should be strained through a cloth to remove the fine hairs which cover the plant as these may irritate the throat.
A tincture of the flowers is used as a sedative.
Preparation And Dosages:
Infusion: 1 teaspoon of the leaves or flowers to 1 cupful of boiling water.
Fresh Flower Tincture: (1:2), 60% alcohol, 30 to 90 drops.
Dry Flower Tincture: (1:5), 60% alcohol, 30 to 90 drops.
Mullein grows easily from seeds in light sandy soil under full sun, but it tolerates other conditions. Sow seeds in spring after danger of frost has passed.
Harvest up to one-third of the leaves during the plant’s first year. Harvest the rest the following year before the flowers bloom. Pick the flowers as they open.
Mullein is a prolific self-sower. Many authorities recommend removing the flower head before the seeds ripen to keep it under control.