Sunday, August 2, 2009
When I first got acquainted with Mullein years ago, I expected to find baby mullein surrounding the tall parent plant. After all, there were at least a gazillion seeds in those tall spires. Surprise. No babies in sight. I soon found, being the bird watcher that I am, that gold finches admired the beautiful yellow-flowered spikes. They looked upon them as their own personal deli, harvesting those little seeds like vacuum cleaners.
However, where there is one mullein, somewhere in the vacinity there will be a few more. They like well-drained soil, and it doesn't have to be rich. Drought conditions don't bother them, which is a good thing in my area right now.
Have you found your mullein? I think harvesting the flowers is sorta like popping kernels off a corn cob! It does take quite a few plants to round up enough flowers to use. Make a mental map of where you find mullein, so you can return daily for repeated flower harvest - they continue blooming for a long time, as the spire grows ever taller.
My infusion jar was started with about a half cup of flowers, covered with olive oil, and I added to it for several more days to get the amount of oil I wanted. It helps to release the oils in the mullein by slightly mashing the flowers with a fork. Let the infusion steep in a warm place for 3-5 days. You can add more flowers and let it set another 3-5 days for an even stronger infusion. Then strain the oil through several layers of muslin or a very fine strainer. Label the finished jar of oil, and store in a cool dry place. It will keep for several years.
This easily prepared oil can be used to ease the pain of earache. As long as the eardrum is not perforated, one to three drops of mullein flower oil is remarkable at relieving inflammation and pain in the ear and incidentally eliminating wax accumulation. St. Johnswort, calendula and garlic oils can also be mixed with the mullein oil - these herbs together are very effective for resolving ear infections.
Mullein flowers aren't the only useful part of the plant. Next we will see what mullein leaves offer for our herbal medicine kit. If you have ever dealt with racking coughs, sore throat, laryingitis, bronchitis and such, you will want to start drying mullein leaves, as well as the flowers.