The power of Mullein in a pandemic

By Sheila McGinnis on 14th Apr 2020

Did you know that a native plant grows in your back yard that is beneficial during this pandemic? Mullein! The green soft fuzzy plant that has popped up in your yard. Some consider it a weed but for me, it’s a beneficial blessing. Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a plant that produces a “rosette” type foliage in the center of the plant. You may have even seen a more mature plant that has a long stalk with small yellow flowers on it. This plant has been used for ages to treat several ailments. Below are some uses for this wonderful plant.

Bronchitis, colds, and flu – simply dry the leaves and steep into a tea.

Ear infections/pain – steep the leaves in olive oil with a clove of crushed garlic. Strain and add one to two drops a couple of times a day in the ear.

Inflammation in the skin such as bruises, cellulitis and even frostbite – Steep a fresh leaf in hot water (let cool) then apply the leaf to the area affected.

Haemorrhoids – steep the leaves and allow to cool before applying to the affected area.

Toilet paper – yes you read that right! It’s been called “cowboy” toilet paper or “wild toilet paper” due to its large leaves and soft foliage. So next time there’s a shortage, you now have another option.

Wicks – In Ancient Greece, people would use mullein to serve as a wick to put into lamps to burn. It makes a wonderful tinder.

Not only are the leaves beneficial but so are the flowers. You get a lot of the same benefits with the yellow flowers when steeped into a tea. You can add the flowers to your salad as well. Please note that the seeds of the plant is toxic. Of course, always ask your health care professional before using herbs and plants as a medicinal.

Considerations for growing and harvesting mullein
(Courtesy of

Mullein can grow in a variety of temperate habitats, including banks, meadows, roadsides, forest clearings and pastures.

Mullein grows in bare and disturbed, usually dry, sandy or chalky soils.

Seeds germinate in spring and summer almost solely in bare soil, at temperatures between 10 °C and 40 °C. Those that germinate in autumn produce plants that overwinter if they are large enough, while rosettes less than 15 cm (5.9 in) across die in winter. After flowering, the entire plant usually dies at the end of its second year, but some individuals, especially in the northern parts of the range, require a longer growth period and flower in their third year. Under better growing conditions, some individuals flower in the first year.

Since mullein has a relatively shallow taproot, making it easy and preferable to just pull up the whole plant. Harvesting is doen when in mullein is in flower and is dried for later use. The whole plant can be hung upside down to dry over a paper bag to catch seeds that may fall out.

Store dried mullein in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

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