Mullein Verbascum thapsus

This is a striking plant, usually seen growing on the roadsides or down by stony river flats. It has a colourful selection of local names in England, including: Hag’s Blanket, Aaron’s Rod, Duffle, Cuddy & Hare’s Beard.

We grow our own plants each year. We let a few seeds drop in the Autumn then transplant seedlings to a suitable spot, dry & free draining. The plants grow steadily throughout the Autumn, sit a bit over Winter, then grow hugely in the Spring & early Summer. They reach a peak about now, with these magnificent flowerheads, & they are a metre across at least at the base. We use the oil in our Rosemary Rub, Liniment & Massage Wax, it is antispasmodic. It is also soothing & offers pain relief, & the leaves are part of our Salve for Haemmorhoids.

PLEASE NOTE: Mullein is covered with fine, irritant hairs, so if you use the leaves or flowers for teas or oils, it must be strained through several layers of fine muslin, or a couple of paper coffee filters.

The oil can be used as drops for earache, & eczema in the ears.

The flowers can be dried & used to make a tea which is reputed to be good for coughs & chest colds, although we haven’t tried it, since all our flowers go into oil. We did dry some leaves, along with other herbs such as Raspberry, Sweet Woodruff, Rosemary & Betony, & made tobacco for my Mum. She thought it was pretty good, but the 2nd batch got rubbed too finely & was hot to smoke. It smelt a bit “herby’ & we did wonder if she might get picked up, puffing , outside the Waipawa Library! Mullein leaves on their own are supposed to be good for asthma, but again I can’t vouch for that.