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Mullein is an ancient plant that grows like a weed all over the world. It is often found in meadows and pastures, along roadsides and fences, in forest openings and vacant lots.

You might be already familiar with it, but if not, it is that amazing tall, fuzzy plant that grows extraordinarily large leaves and sports small yellow flowers that grow on a spike.

We don’t often get to see this plant in its full glory as people tend to weed-eat or mow it down before it gets to do its thing.

But, if you do come across one of these special plants, or if you manage to grow some intentionally, there are a few health benefits gained from sipping a cup of nutritious mullein tea.

Let’s take a look at how to properly identify, harvest, and process mullein.

Remember- Never consume a foraged plant unless you are 100% certain that you have a correct identification. Cross-reference several field guides and check with local experts if you are unsure. If you are new to foraging or need a refresher, check out this quick guide for some tips

How to Identify Mullein

Source: EagleSong Gardener/YouTube

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a biennial plant with a deep tap root. In its first year of life, you will find mullein leaves growing close to the ground in a rosette. If they are left to grow, these densely fuzzy, silvery green leaves can reach up to a foot in length and five inches wide. Prehistoric comes to mind when you see one!

In its second year, the mullein plant produces a tall flower stalk that can reach 10 feet tall. There are still large, alternate leaves at the base of the stalk which get smaller as they reach the top.

Small yellow flowers with five petals grow densely at the tip of the spike. The lower flowers are more mature with newer flowers forming at the tip. These flowers are loved by pollinators.

Mullein thrives in disturbed and damaged soils and needs full sun.

Health Benefits of Mullein


Traditionally, mullein has been used to treat several ailments from coughs and congestion to migraines and sleep disorders. A lot of the evidence of the health benefits of mullein is anecdotal and more research has to be done on its efficacy on human health.

More recent studies, however, have found the mullein ssp to contain several anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids, and saponins. Other studies showed mullein to have antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Mullein tea is often used as an herbal remedy for dry coughs, and respiratory and bronchial conditions. As well, mullein can be made into a cream and used topically to relieve

There aren’t any major side effects reported of using mullein, though some people have experienced an allergic skin reaction to the fine hairs on the leaves. If you have any adverse symptoms from either consuming or touching mullein, cease contact with the plant and seek medical advice.

How to Harvest Mullein and Make Tea

First of all, if you really aren’t able or into foraging but still want to try the tea, you can buy mullein tea at health food stores and online.

If you have found yourself a mullein plant or have it growing in your garden then you are ready to start harvesting.

You can harvest the leaves from the plant at any time, but they are at their most potent in the fall of the plant’s first year or spring of its second year. You can also harvest the roots and the flowers of this plant.

You can either make tea from fresh leaves and flowers, or you can dry them out for future use. When making tea from dried herbs, one tablespoon of dried herbs per cup of water is usually a good ratio. Fresh leaves and flowers will have a less intense flavor.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Never use wild plants or herbs medicinally without talking to a medical professional first. This is especially important for those on medication or who are pregnant. 

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