Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
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Painting by Vicki Malone
The mullein is a big, tall, fuzzy-leafed plant that has surprisingly beautiful, delicate yellow flowers. I found this a wonderful contrast.
Colored pencil and graphite enabled me to best capture the thick hairy leaves and the beautiful yellow blossoms (as well as the fuzzy bee).
Leaves and flowers were made into a tea. It was an expectorant, demulcent, antispasmodic, diuretic. Tea was also used to treat chest colds, asthma, bronchitis, and kidney infections. It is most commonly used for inflammation.
A poultice of the leaves was used topically to treat ulcers, tumors and hemorrhoids. Earache drops were made from flowers soaked in mineral oil. Mrs. Child’s popular 1837 handbook, The Family Nurse, recommended using the leaves, “moistened in hot water, then simmered in fresh lard” to make “a soothing and quieting liniment." (Childs, p.128)
The seeds contain a sapotoxin called rotenone which was used as an insecticide and fish poison.
Modern research has shown mullein to have antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiviral properties.