This week we’re featuring one of Josh’s favorite herbs- Mullein! Mullein is a beautiful herb that grows well in the Salt Lake City area and can be found cropping up on roadsides, abandoned lots, and in the gardens of herbalists who know just how valuable its medicine is for people in our area. This week we’re focusing on the leaves of the Mullein plant, although both flowers and roots can be used in herbalism for specific imbalances.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a biannual plant that simply cannot be ignored. On its first year of growth it creates a soft whorl of downy leaves that rest on the Earth. Its second year of growth brings a stalk that can reach well over 6 feet tall! This stalk is topped with a cob of bright yellow flowers that attract pollenators and insects of all varieties. It’s rare to find a Mullein plant that isn’t housing a variety of insects- and butterflies really love those delicate flowers. Each day different flowers will pop open almost like popcorn on the cob. They’ll spend the day being pollenated and feeding bugs, then dry out as the next seemingly random set of flowers opens up. Mullein loves full sun and isn’t shy about soaking it all in.
A Dreamy Demulcent
One of the reasons we love Mullein Leaves so much is that they possess a demulcent action that’s perfect for those of us in the Salt Lake area. Demulcent herbs create a soft, viscous, moisturizing mucilaginous material when made into tea. This mucilage acts as a nourishing and protecting coating to the throat and lungs- and with Mullein Leaves it even reaches down into the digestive tract to soothe there. It also has gentle yet deep expectorant abilities which means it can help to loosen and clear out accumulated gunk in the respiratory system. You’ve probably already figured out why Mullein is so beloved to Utah herb enthusiasts- it’s the perfect support for our dry, hot, inversion-ridden air.
The images on the left were taken in a yard in the Avenues are of Salt Lake City and a yard in Rose Park.
Finding Your Way with Mullein
The stalk of a second-year Mullein stands tall- sometimes very tall. In the old herbals, people often point out how the flowering stalk looks like a lit torch and we agree! Mullein stands tall as a guidepost and has a bright, confident energy that can help us find our inner light and locate the next sure footing on our life path. The soft, lamb’s ear-like leaves offer an energy of comfort and safety. The spiraling leaves which often point in 8 directions have caused Mullein to be considered an herb of the crossroads where one can choose to take any path and where decisions are made and options are weighed. At a Mullein plant we often feel that light and direction are shed upon areas of our lives where there may be confusion, darkness, or stale energy.
Drinking Mullein Leaf herbal tea is a wonderful way to bring its healing energy into your lungs and your life path. The tiny hairs on the leaves can be irritating to the throat, so Mullein is best prepared as a tea using a paper tea bag that will full filter out those hairs. If you are fortunate enough to meet a Mullein plant in person, spend some time sitting with it in the sunshine asking for its help in making choices that are for your highest good- and for help with connecting to the deep power of the breath.
In addition to working with Mullein Leaves as an herbal tea, they can also be added to special herbal smoking blends, incenses, baths, and poultices. An oil infusion made from Mullein Leaves & Flowers and a clove of Garlic is one of herbalism’s most cherished folk remedies for treating all kinds of ear issues. Stop in and we’ll show you how to do it the easy way in your own kitchen.
The images to the right were taken at Memory Grove and in a front yard in Rose Park.