Verbascum thapsus – When I first learned the benefits of this plant I had to laugh. All teenage boys around here smoked the leaves of this plant believing it was a tobacco. Little did we know we were smoking a decongestant!
Mullein leaves and those of P. obtusifolium (MnE 16) can be smoked for cold and flu symptoms and are effective medicinally. I sometimes think they got the name tobacco because of this.
Lots of vids on the net on making tinctures with various parts of this plant. Last year I asked a different sort of question in another forum about mullein. It was answered by Henriette, a rather famous Herbalist. Here is my question and her answer, very enlightening with some interesting details. By the way, her books are great and her website and incredible resource. http://www.henriettesherbal.com. Some mullein detals - http://www.henriettesherbal.com/blog/hotw-mullein.html
Q. “I find plenty of herbal medicine books to identify a wild plant. I find plenty telling how to use an herb, make a tincture etc.
What I don't find for wild plants is a book giving specifics about when and how to harvest, all or different parts of a plant. There are plenty of books that cover this for plants grown in someone's backyard herb garden but not one for wild plants.”
A. “So. Mullein.
You pick the flowers, one by one, when your mullein is in flower. You can make them into a tincture (nicely lymphatic, I'm told ... I don't have enough mullein for that) or let them melt in a glass jar in a sunny window into one kind of mullein oil.
Or you can lop off the flowerstalk if you like, and use that (dried or fresh), preferably when you have a LOT of flowers on the stalk. Make into an oil (nicely anti-inflammatory and great for ear aches), a tea, or a tincture. Note, mullein (off the stalk) needs straining through a coffee filter: it's covered in hairs that can irritate tender mucous membranes (like those in your throat).
If it's one of the thicker-stalked species, strip the stalk (fresh or dry) and use ALL flowers, flowerbuds, seedpods. If it's one of the thinner-stalked species (for instance, Verbascum nigrum), just clip it into 1" (2-3 cm) bits and use those.
The leaves are picked when they're fully grown but not yet diseased. Dry for tea or make into an oil. Cut the midribs for better drying results. Use as a tea or tincture.
The root is astonishing for stress incontinence, that is, you pee your pants when you laugh, or cough, or sneeze, or jump, or run. Give a tincture daily for a few weeks, or some roots (dried or fresh) to chew daily, on to new moms (their nether regions need the support) and to elderly lads and ladies (their nether regions are getting less juicy). The root strengthens the trigone muscle in the bladder, which we can't train ourselves. Also, squats rather than Kegels. Sitting down behind a bush to pee is WAAAAY better for our holding-it-in abilities than sitting with knees at a 90 ' angle on the toilet ... squatting also minimizes hemorrhoids and similar.
Read more on mullein here: http://www.henriettesherbal.com/blog/hotw-mullein.html and here: http://www.herbcraft.org/mullein.html
As to knowing what to pick when and how: see my book "Practical Herbs" (in it, I write about the most common preparations, 23 herbs, and a few odds and ends). About half of the plants I cover are wild (up here), about half garden-grown (again, up here).
You'll find more info on the book here: http://www.henriettesherbal.com/article ... herbs.html. Here's a sample: http://www.henriettesherbal.com/files/a ... -herbs.pdf (with table of contents, rosebay willowherb and so on).
The book I'm working on now (due in English in 2013) will have more herbs (including mullein), a few aches explained, a few basics explained, and some odds and ends.”
Verbascum thapsus – grows in all 50 states and in Canada south of the arctic circle. It loves disturbed soil. It grows every year around my cattle holding pens, dozens of plants. Back in the spring I found 100’s growing in an area that had been logged. The plant has a very distinctive appearance, easy to recognize. A biennial, will put up a stalk and seed head the second year. Sometimes has multiple seed heads. It turns brown is late summer, sometimes the stalk will stay upright well into winter.
Pic one – cow pen
Pic two – bloom of Verbascum schutzhundus
Pic three – front yard last year.