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.
Identification credit: Umberto Boni
Photographed on Govindghat-Ghangria route, Uttarakhand.
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