Alien species abound in the United States. No, they didn’t come from outer space. They came from other ecosystems, some by design and some by accident. For example, Russian thistle, along with East Asian kudzu and serecia lespedeza have invaded our botanic world and made serious pests of themselves. I despise all three, but at least one invader is welcome in our pasture – mullein, a native of Eurasia.
Herbalists value mullein for its demulcent, astringent, and emollient properties. I keep dried mullein leaves on hand for coughs and colds, but it has many other uses, including poultices for inflammation.
Mullein is a biennial. The first year it makes a low rosette of big fuzzy leaves. The second year it shoots up a stalk that terminates in many yellow flowers. Second year growth is easier to harvest, and th.at just what we did yesterday. Actually Dennis did the work. I just sat in the car with its hazard lights flashing. In this photo he is heading for the last of the mullein plants, his left hand full of mullein stalks.
Although we could have harvested mullein in our pasture, instead we harvested along a roadside in Douglas County. I had spotted mullein on our way home from town the day before. It was growing on a bank with native pasture drainage. I’d been on the lookout for some that would not be contaminated by Round-Up and chemical fertilizers, and there they stood, several healthy plants in a row, all of them easily accessible from the roadside.
The job took only a few minutes.
Now it’s my turn to do the work cutting the individual leaves from the stalks and arranging them on towels to dry inside the house. I’d better get busy.
Copyright 2016 by Shirley Domer