Mullein's Botanical name is Verbascum thapsus. Through history, Mullein has been known by many names. Here they are - White Mullein. Torches. Mullein Dock. Our Lady's Flannel. Velvet Dock. Blanket Herb. Velvet Plant. Woollen. Rag Paper. Candlewick Plant. Wild Ice Leaf. Clown's Lungwort. Bullock's Lungwort. Aaron's Rod. Jupiter's Staff. Jacob's Staff. Peter's Staff. Shepherd's Staff. Shepherd's Clubs. Beggar's Stalk. Golden Rod. Adam's Flannel. Beggar's Blanket. Clot. Cuddy's Lungs. Duffle. Feltwort. Fluffweed. Hare's Beard. Old Man's Flannel. Hag's Taper. It is quite interesting to see how people find names for things. Many of the name are created because of how the plant looks. The leaves are soft, felt-like and spongy so that explains some of them. Other names originated because of the use as a torch.
So where do you find Mullein?
That is quite easy. Pretty much everywhere.
From the Botanical.com - "the Great Mullein, is a widely distributed plant, being found all over Europe and in temperate Asia as far as the Himalayas, and in North America is exceedingly abundant as a naturalized weed in the eastern States. It is met with throughout Britain (except in the extreme north of Scotland) and also in Ireland and the Channel Islands, on hedge-banks, by roadsides and on waste ground, more especially on gravel, sand or chalk. It flowers during July and August."
Now this bit says that in North American it is a 'naturalized weed'. While this is how most agencies view this wonder plant, it is far from a 'weed'. Here in Colorado, it is found in pastures, open-space, along roads, along rivers and lakes, and even in some yards. If you are looking for Mullein in your area just head to local undeveloped field or open-space, it just might be there.
Pray tell, what does it look like?
Mullein has two growing seasons so it will look different depending on which season it is in. Season one it will be close the ground and have only a rosette of leaves between 6-15 inches long. In the second season the rosette of leaves will have a stem rise from the center. The stem will have alternating leaves similar to the lower rosette. As the stock reaches full height of between 4-5 feet tall a flower spike will emerge and this will house the many yellow flowers of the Mullein plant.
So what can you do with this herb?
The Botanical.com as a wonderful piece on this. I am posting it here for your reference.
The Mullein has very markedly demulcent, emollient and astringent properties, which render it useful in pectoral complaints and bleeding of the lungs and bowels. The whole plant seems to possess slightly sedative and narcotic properties. It is considered of much value in phthisis and other wasting diseases, palliating the cough and staying expectoration, consumptives appearing to benefit greatly by its use, being given in the form of an infusion, 1 OZ. of dried, or the corresponding quantity of fresh leaves being boiled for 10 minutes in a pint of milk, and when strained, given warm, thrice daily, with or without sugar. The taste of the decoction is bland, mucilaginous and cordial, and forms a pleasant emollient and nutritious medicine for allaying a cough, or removing the pain and irritation of hemorrhoids. A plain infusion of 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water can also be employed, taken in wineglassful doses frequently. The dried leaves are sometimes smoked in an ordinary tobacco pipe to relieve the irritation of the respiratory mucus membranes, and will completely control, it is said, the hacking cough of consumption. They can be employed with equal benefit when made into cigarettes, for asthma and spasmodic coughs in general. Fomentations and poultices of the leaves have been found serviceable in hemorrhoidal complaints. Mullein is said to be of much value in diarrhea, from its combination of demulcent with astringent properties, by this combination strengthening the bowels at the same time. In diarrhea the ordinary infusion is generally given, but when any bleeding of the bowels is present, the decoction prepared with milk is recommended. On the Continent, a sweetened infusion of the flowers strained in order to separate the rough hairs, is considerably used as a domestic remedy in mild catarrhs, colic, etc. A conserve of the flowers has also been employed on the Continent against ringworm, and a distilled water of the flowers was long reputed a cure for burns and erysipelas. An oil produced by macerating Mullein flowers in olive oil in a corked bottle, during prolonged exposure to the sun, or by keeping near the fire for several days, is used as a local application in country districts in Germany for piles and other mucus membrane inflammation, and also for frost bites and bruises. Mullein oil is recommended for earache and discharge from the ear, and for any eczema of the external ear and its canal. Dr. Fernie (Herbal Simples) states that some of the most brilliant results have been obtained in suppurative inflammation of the inner ear by a single application of Mullein oil, and that in acute or chronic cases, two or three drops of this oil should be made to fall in the ear twice or thrice in the day. Mullein oil is a valuable destroyer of disease germs. The fresh flowers, steeped for 21 days in olive oil, are said to make an admirable bactericide. Gerarde tells us that 'Figs do not putrifie at all that are wrapped in the leaves of Mullein.' An alcoholic tincture is prepared by homoeopathic chemists, from the fresh herb with spirits of wine, which has proved beneficial for migraine or sick headache of long standing, with oppression of the ear. From 8 to 10 drops of the tincture are given as a dose, with cold water, repeated frequently.
I have found the plant. Now what do I do?
Well that depends on what you intend to make. If you are going to make the ear oil, you just need to harvest the flowers from the plants. This can be quite a challenge given that the flowers have no stems. It is best to get the flowers that have fully opened and are near the bottom of the spike. These are easier to remove. If you are interested in the Mullein Tea then you will need the leaves of the plant. These can either be obtained by removing them individually from the lower part of the plant (not the ones at the very bottom as they are usually damaged and don't do well). Remembering to only remove some of the leaves and move to the next plant, this is done to ensure the plant survives to produce the seeds needed to self populate. Another method is to remove the whole plant by cutting at the base just above the bottom leaves. I would recommend this only if the area you are harvesting from has a large number of plants. Once you have the entire plant, it can be hung like other herbs to dry and the entire plant processed as needed. More detailed information on the uses can be found at The Botanical.com.
If you aren't inclined to head out and harvest the herbs yourself we have this herb and many others available in our store at Grove of the Ancients Pagan Marketplace.
Next week is Hyssop. (a rush of ohs and ahs fills the room)