Botanical name: Verbascum thapsus Family: Scrophulariaceae (dog flower family)
Mullein is a 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. 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.
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 Ullysess took to protect himself against the wiles of Circe.
Medicinal uses: 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. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of a wide range of chest complaints and also to treat diarrhoea and bleeding of the lungs and bowels. 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.
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