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  • Baby mullein in the house garden - Grá Nádúr - Photography by Alex

    Conversations with Mullein

    Verbascum thapsus Scrophulariaceae

    A biennial plant. In the first year, it is a basal rosette of large pointed leaves; they are green-grey in colour and covered in downy hairs. 

    By Plant Medicine School 10 mins

    10 mins

    Nikki's commentary  -  So the first thing I noticed when I approached was agitation in my mind- Mullein calms and centres the mind. It also helps clear feelings of inadequacy and not being good enough or doing things right. This was quite an interesting part of the conversation as I kept finding myself feeling like I could not remember how to sense plants' meanings and communications; this felt quite weird.

    Then the plant reminded me of the aromatic water we had made a few weeks ago and the infused oil of the root we had made which is mighty stuff that reminded me of treacle- incredibly strengthening for the connective tissues.

    When I sipped the tincture of the flowers it surprised me with its sweetness (although there is a bitterness that follows); I found the same when I ate one of the flowers that it suggested I taste. The sweetness feels quite joyful- it brings joy back to the heart when too much grief has made it feel soggy and cold.

    It relaxes the mind from frenetic thoughts, calms the nervous system and can help with sleep. Then the mullein told me to stroke its leaves. ‘Feel' it said 'I am not soft like marshmallow or lamb’s ears- my hairs are more abrasive, almost like sandpaper. I am very thorough in clearing out the old crud, the old mucus and the old stuck griefs- little ones and big ones; ones buried deep from childhood when someone is told they are stupid, not good enough, not loved. I am thorough -like the nurse who is compassionate but thorough and actually very loving but stern- takes no-nonsense, gets the job done well.'

    Alongside this, it brings a lovely joyful feeling and has a huge heart field. It has a feeling of an elder, one who has been much, learned much and has knowledge and wisdom to share. It has a long relationship with the humans - how many old farmhouses or estate houses have it popping up around them from having been brought to grow close to the house?

    And then there are those tiny little seeds it makes which look like they would make a delicate little plant but look at the towering noble being they grow into- I have a feeling that says something about its energy too; from tiny seeds of hope mightiness can grow.


    Monograph - TPMS


    Verbascum thapsus Scrophulariaceae


    Botanical description:

    A biennial plant. In the first year, it is a basal rosette of large pointed leaves; they are green-grey in colour and covered in downy hairs. In the second year, a tall spike emerges with smaller leaves, reaching 30-200 cm. The flowers are borne in a long spike above the leaves; they are laterally symmetrical, yellow in colour, have orange anthers and are lightly perfumed.

    Parts used:

    Flowers and leaves. The flowers are regarded as superior medicine but are time-consuming and costly to gather.

    Harvesting, cultivation and habitat:

    Grows on sandy or chalky soil; prefers sun and bare ground or rough grass habitats. In Ireland, the native population is variable, rare in some regions. It is native to central and southern Europe and western Asia. It is naturalised in many other temperate regions. The leaves and flowers are gathered during flowering in the summer.

    History and folklore:

    The long spikes were dipped into wax by the Romans to make tapers and the down has been used to make candlewicks. The flowers were used as a hair tonic. The seeds have been used by fishermen to sedate fish; they are scattered into the stream which is to be fished \the leaves were wrapped around fruit to preserve them (they are antiseptic). It is a herb that is good for grief or the upset of making a mistake (which is part of the human condition after all and part of the learning process) or feeling we have not lived up to our expectations or those of others) which is also part of the human condition from time to time). Sweet, cool, moist.


    Mucilage, Flavonoids, Triterpenoid saponins, Volatile oil, Tannins


    Expectorant, Demulcent, Mild diuretic, diaphoretic, mildly antiseptic Topically emollient and vulnerary


    Traditional and current uses:

    • Tracheitis and bronchitis
    • Coughs and congestion – to loosen stubborn mucus
    • Feverish chills with hard coughs
    • Colds and influenza
    • Externally as a hair wash
    • Externally as an emollient and wound healer
    • Externally: macerated oil used topically for ear infections and haemorrhoids
    • Cream made from the infused oil is used to treat eczema and inflamed eyelids
    • Used as a wound herb in the form of a poultice or salve
    • Compresses made from the leaf (sometimes combined with the seed) are used for swellings and painful joints
    • The root has been used in a similar way to comfrey to repair connective tissue and damaged joints
    • Leaves flowers and sometimes seeds are combined to make a poultice to draw out splinters
    • A sedative nervine
    • The flowers are a delicious addition to salads




    Mullein in Community Field Grá Nádúr 1



    Mullein in Community Field Grá Nádúr 2



    Mullein in Community Field Grá Nádúr 3


    Explore this high-resolution photo album by Alex Duffy on Flickr!



    Homage to Mullein - a short film...

    Take a few minutes to be with this Mullein plant in our community field. Use this short film as an opportunity to meditate and resonate with Mullein. Best viewed full screen with 4k quality selected, if you can, and volume up to enjoy the bird song too.





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