Photo by Karen Bergeron
Photo by Deb Jackson
Adam's Flannel, Beggar's Blanket,
Candlewick Plant, Common Mullein, Flannel Mullein, Flannel Plant, Hag's Taper, Jupiter's
Staff, Molene, Mullein, Velvet Dock, Velvet Plant, Woolly Mullin
naturalized, biennial herb. Widely distributed plant, being found all over Europe and in
temperate Asia as far as the Himalayas, and in North America it is exceedingly abundant.
Great Mullein is found growing on hedge-banks, by roadsides and on waste ground, more
especially on gravel, sand or chalk. Sunny positions in uncultivated fields and especially
on dry soils. Cultivation: Great Mullein is an easily grown plant, it succeeds in most
well-drained soils, including dry ones, and prefers a sunny position. Dislikes shade and
wet soils. The leaves (first season) at the base of the stem form a rosette of numerous,
large, 6 to 15 inches long and up to 5 inches broad, but become smaller as they ascend the
stem, on which they are arranged on alternate sides. They are whitish with a soft, dense
mass of hairs on both sides, which make them feel very furry and thick. The root is a long
taproot with a fibrous outer cover and fleshy inside. The flower-spike (second season) has
been known to attain a height of 7 or 8 feet, covered with densely crowded,
sulphur-yellow, flowers about an inch across with five rounded petals. Blooming during
July and August. Harvest the entire plant when in bloom and dry for later herb use.
Great Mullein has been used as
an alternative medicine for centuries, and in many countries throughout the
world, the value of Great Mullein as a proven medicinal herb is now backed by scientific
evidence. Some valuable constituents contained in Mullein are Coumarin and Hesperidin,
they exhibit many healing abilities. Research indicates some of the uses as analgesic,
antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral, bacteristat,
cardio-depressant, estrogenic, fungicide, hypnotic, sedative and pesticide are valid.
infusion is taken internally in the treatment of a wide range of chest complaints and also
to treat diarrhea and bleeding of the lungs and bowels. The leaves, root, and the flowers
are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, demulcent, diuretic,
emollient, expectorant, nervine, and vulnerary.
Mullein oil is a very medicinal and
valuable destroyer of disease germs. An infusion of the flowers in olive oil is used as
earache drops, or as a local application in the treatment of piles and other mucous
membrane inflammations. This infusion is a strong antibacterial. The oil being used to
treat gum and mouth ulcers is very effective. A decoction of the roots is used to
alleviate toothache and also relieve cramps and convulsions. It is also used in
alternative medicine for the treatment of
migraine headaches accompanied with oppression of the ear.
The whole plant possess
slightly sedative and narcotic properties. The seeds are
considered toxic. They have been historically used as a narcotic and
also contain saponins.
The dried leaves are sometimes smoked to relieve the irritation of
the respiratory mucus membranes, and the hacking cough of consumption. They can be
employed with equal benefit when made into cigarettes, for asthma and spasmodic coughs in
general. Externally, a medicinal poultice of the leaves is applied to sunburn, ulcers,
tumors and piles.
Dye, Insecticide, Insulation, Lighting,
Tinder, Wick. A yellow dye is made from the flowers by boiling them in water. When used
with dilute sulphuric acid they produce a rather permanent green dye, this becomes brown
with the addition of alkalis. An infusion of the flowers is sometimes used to dye the hair
a golden color. The leaves contain rotenone, which is used as an insecticide. The dried
leaves are highly flammable and can be used to ignite a fire quickly , or as wick for
An old superstition existed that
witches used lamps and candles provided with wicks of Mullein in their incantations, and
another of the plant's many names, 'Hag's Taper', refers to this. Both in Europe and Asia
the power of driving away evil spirits was ascribed to the Mullein. Being a sure safeguard
against evil spirits and magic, and from the ancient classics, it was this plant which
Ulysses took to protect himself against the wiles of Circe.
Tea: An aromatic tea can be made by boiling 1
dried leaves or root, in 1 cup water for 5 - 10 min. A sweeter tea can be made by infusing
the fresh or dried flowers. Or for children and the elderly use milk instead of water.
Sweeten if desired.
Mullein oil: Use flowers or root. Place in
blender or crush, fill jar, cover with olive oil, set in warm place for 2 weeks. Strain
Article by Deb Jackson & Karen