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mullein in permaculture

 
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My favorite info from the video - which was my introduction to these forums btw:
"Mullein is a weed commonly found in abandonned lots. It grows in gravel, sand, poor soil and asphalt.
Like most weeds, mullein serves a purpose.
It has a deep taproot which loosens compacted soil. 

Mullein etches lose the minerals in the gravel and transforms the minerals into a form that can be used.
It pulls the minerals, calcium, magnesium, potassium into the leaves. When the leaves fall off, or the plant is composted, nutrients are added to the soil.

It is an early succession plant. Once its job is done, and the soil is improved, it leaves."

How cool is that?!

"The lesson of mullein
Mullein tries to heal the earth. Weeds often serve a purpose, not easily evident.
When we clear the weeds, we stop the earth from healing."

So we should listen carefully - what are the weeds telling us?
~~~~
Yesterday I transplanted 2 mullein plants to a permaculture garden I am working in. I always loved mullein, and knew about its medicinal uses, but did not know about its healing the earth property.

Shall see if this is true, as the earth I am working in is hard-scrabble and can use all the help it can get!

Thanks,
ellen
 
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Hey gang. I shot this video of a bunch of Mullein near my home just up grant creek rd.
enjoy.

 
ellen rosner
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thanks!
I've never seen so many mullein.
good healing to you.
Of the 2 mullein I transplanted one took, the other is questionable.
Next year - seeds.
 
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Dave Bennett wrote:Do you know the cold tolerance?



We have them in our pastures. They are a sign of poor soils. Quite pretty. See:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/2010/09/mullein.html

I suspect that the benefit they offer is they colonize low fertility areas, die, fertilize the soil with their dead bodies and then other plants follow them. Probably takes a lot of time.
 
pollinator
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Yesterday I transplanted 2 mullein plants to a permaculture garden I am working in. I always loved mullein, and knew about its medicinal uses, but did not know about its healing the earth property.



you loose the deep taproot effect when you transplant them mullein. i suggest letting them grow and collecting seed, then broadcasting seed on hard soil( it helps if you scruff up the surface first imo)
 
ellen rosner
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hubert cumberdale wrote:
you loose the deep taproot effect when you transplant them mullein. i suggest letting them grow and collecting seed, then broadcasting seed on hard soil( it helps if you scruff up the surface first imo)



why do you lose the deep taproot effect when you transplant?
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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i have been observing another trait of mullein that is beneficial to permaculture. this part has to deal with keeping bees. in the early mornings the mullein fuzz collects tiny dewdrops, sometimes only in the heart and deep between the leaves. bees use these dewdrops as a water source and prefer it to the usual bowl of water filled with rocks. also on days where the morning humidity level is higher the leaves will start to drip, watering the soil beneath, which i have found to be excellent for dandelion, carrot, beet, and other tap rooted plants. and as known they are turning some of my hardest dirt into soil. and this is coming from an area that gets absolutely zero rain from may-october.
 
pollinator
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Leaf footed bugs are all over the mullien flowers. Paul always says that this should tell me something. Anyone have a clue what I can learn from this?
 
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why do you lose the deep taproot effect when you transplant?



Taproots are almost impossible to dig up. So you break the taproot when transplanting, at which point the plant will tend to do more of a spreading root pattern.
 
                                  
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Just threw up a bunch of photos of mullein onto flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/herbalist101/

Also wrote a couple of articles about the uses of the different parts of the plant (including more photos taken in the wild) on my blog at What is mullein

As this is my first post I wanted to say howdy, awesome to find this forum and look forward to chatting further. Huge fan of nature and creating balance intelligently that can maintain and improve itself over time.
 
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Location: Central Wyoming -zone 4
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mullein is a GREAT permaculture plant, it grows here in cheyenne where the winters sometimes get as cold as -30F, though i havent seen any stalks as tall as ive seen on the internet
great for rocky soils but i swear my ground must be a touch too fertile cus i got a whole packet of mullein seeds and i cant get em to come up!
 
                                  
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Devon: What species of Mullein are you trying to plant? Could be a range of conditions that the seeds you have are adapted for that don't line up with where you are trying to put them.

Here in the Rockies I've found em as taller than 6ft in large patches, though I've done enough research to know that there are some 250 varieties that grow in different regions under different climates / soils / humidity (the ones around here seem to like semi-dry) etc...
 
Devon Olsen
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^wow, i had no idea there were so many different mulleins!
i have seeds from another memeber on here, likely a totally different climate, i didnt realise we had any until a month or tow after he sent em to me

so maybe thats it, if so, GREAT!
i just have to find a few patches that have some collectible seeds...
 
pollinator
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Hmmm interesting that this came up again today - it's just made me realise that we have none this year!!! Maybe it's been too wet. Do they like dry conditions? The past two years we've had loads.
 
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I live in Central Texas and wanted to buy locally grown mullein seed, do I just go to a local nursery?
Is there anyone on this forum that lives around here that would like to sell me some, or recommendations
of where to purchase?
 
Devon Olsen
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some states consider it a noxious weed(WYOMING included) and consider it illegal to plant so oyu may not be able to find any at nurserys, if nothing else just look around while driving around and see if you can find any existing platns to harvest seed from
 
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Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Mullien and flu

http://www.flutrackers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=40560
 
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fungi trees
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With all due copyrights to the author and publisher, an interesting article in the Journal of Ecology on locally adapted vs. introduced strains of mullein and their performance:

Evolution of fast-growing and more resistant phenotypes in introduced common mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
by Sabrina Kumschick, Ruth A. Hufbauer, Christina Alba, Dana M. Blumenthal
Summary

Species introduced into areas outside of their native range face novel biotic and abiotic conditions, which probably impose novel selection pressures. Adaptation to these new conditions may increase the ability of introduced species to establish and spread. Like many other introduced plant populations, introduced genotypes of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) are more successful in their introduced than in their native range, with increased growth and fecundity. These differences appear to be at least partly genetically based. The most successful introduced populations also grow in an environment that is drier and has fewer competitors than native populations. It is not known, however, whether differences between native and introduced mullein populations are related to these environmental differences between ranges.
We used a common garden experiment with 23 native and 27 introduced populations of common mullein to test whether common mullein in the introduced range exhibits evolutionary shifts with respect to responses to competition, drought stress and nitrogen (N) stress. We also used choice experiments to learn whether introduced mullein is more or less resistant to a generalist herbivore than native mullein.
Without competition, introduced genotypes grew larger than native genotypes under high resource availability (control) and N stress, but not water stress. Survival, however, was increased in native populations under competition and N stress. The introduced genotypes also had a lower root:shoot ratio than the native genotypes. With competition, introduced genotypes grew larger than native genotypes across all treatments, with that difference being significant under N stress. The introduced genotypes were also more resistant to a generalist herbivore.
Synthesis: Together, high biomass, strong responses to high water availability and low root:shoot ratio suggest that mullein has evolved a fast-growing, weedy phenotype in its introduced range rather than adapting to a low-water environment through increased root growth. Although fast-growing plants can be more palatable to herbivores, in this case there does not appear to be a trade-off between growth and defence against a generalist herbivore. Mullein appears to have evolved to be both faster growing and better defended in the introduced range.

Together, high biomass, strong responses to high water-availability and low root:shoot ratio suggest that mullein has evolved a fast-growing, weedy phenotype in its introduced range rather than adapting to a low water environment through increased root growth. Although fast-growing plants can be more palatable to herbivores, in this case there does not appear to be a trade-off between growth and defense against a generalist herbivore. Mullein appears to have evolved to be both faster-growing and better defended in the introduced range.

 
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I would agree that this is the best movie ever made about mullein -- perhaps the only? I love this plant and have used it successfully to treat stubborn bronchitis. The flowers can also be used to make a tea for that purpose but they have to be dried to retain their yellow color. As several people mentioned, this is a great bee plant too.
 
pollinator
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I've got 200 of mullein seeds, used them on a sandy hill few weeks ago, so far no mullein seedlings. People say it grows even in gravel, I wonder what is wrong with mine sand then.

I have checked http://data.kew.org/sid/sidsearch.html to get some info on germination, but all what's there is:

100 % germination; ; germination medium = 1% agar; germination conditions = 25°C, 8/16; (RBG Kew, Wakehurst Place) etc.

which means germination in artificial conditions rather than in a natural soil. No matter what light regime and temperature they have used, they had 92-100% of germination.

I wonder if anyone knows what condition mullein seeds need to sprout?
 
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Mullein is a fairly common "weed" where I'm at along the Front Range in Colorado. I get new volunteer mullein seedlings every year. I guess I'm just lucky in this regard. Shoot, I've seen in growing right in the middle of asphalt parking lots here. Tough little buggers.
 
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Location: Kentucky- Zone 7(a)
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Im not to sure about the benefits it brings soil, myself , but logic would point to action like the dandelion. I say grab a couple seed and see how big you can get the thing! Mullein has lots of uses in medicine. the leaves make a good cough tea, the roots good for bones and arthritis, the the seed contains a natural pesticide called Rotenone, so dont eat them.
 
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Liz, do you know the species name of the mullein in your photo? I don't think I have ever seen it before. It is beautiful! .
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: Central Wyoming -zone 4
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im not sure what species she has but digging dog nursery (not nessacarily promoting or demoting these guys as i have not yet had the pleasure of ordering from them) has lots of perennial mullein's, you may find that some are just what youre looking for:

http://diggingdog.com/pages2/verbascum.php
 
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+1 for organic TP substitute.
That one thing I was having trouble creating on the farm..
 
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Chefmom Hatfield wrote:pick the flowers as they bloom and infuse in some olive oil with a clove of crushed garlic.  Use a few drops in a heavy loaded wax ear or a very itchy ear.

Tami


We grew mullein in our garden this year for this purpose.

here is a picture of the one (3) we grew: it ended up ~ 5,5-6ft tall.



Here is a close up of the flowers as it was beginning to bloom: (it still has a few flowers and still attracts bees/bugs today)


Here is amount ~3/4 of the flowers we used


then we put it in a mason jar with some olive oil (we didnt use garlic)


after a few weeks we strained it through a coffee filter and stored in an a jar. (it turned really dark while in the mason jar, but strained clean)


we recently gave some to a friend how had an ear ache and she reports that it did help her.
I didnt realize there were so many uses for this plant until i read through this thread.

cant wait to harvest the seeds and spread them around the property

Kelly
 
David Hartley
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At one point there was a request for photos of large mullein. Here is one in my mother's courtyard herb garden from a couple years ago... Had to climb onto the garage roof to harvest the flowers



0916091844.jpg
[Thumbnail for 0916091844.jpg]
 
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Location: north Georgia
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I have certainly enjoyed having mullein in my growing area. I grew 3 varieties from seed and in the second year they grew over 6 ft and were spectacular - see photos at http://www.nutrac.info/2013/06/17/mullein-is-an-unusual-plant/. Pollinators loved the tall towers. That said, I will not be hosting them again in my growing area since I do not feel they contributed nutritionally to the neighboring plants. They have horizontal roots and sucked nutrients out of the adjoining soil, quite unlike comfrey. One caveat - I have a lot fewer pests this year and am still trying to figure out why and maybe the mullein had something to do with that.
 
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My notes from my reading of Moore's Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West:

Collect the second year leaves, wash well and dry
Remove flowers and buds individually (I typically remove only buds if thy have some color showing. If the site is remote I take the top part that has not flowered as well)
Roots are sliced and then dried

Leaves: mild sedative to the lungs. Most useful early with mild fever, raspy throat and hot, dry chest. Stop treatment once infection is broken. Can smoke dried leaves. Combine with lobelia or mimsonwed for more effectiveness.

Flowers: use fore more aggressive symptoms, particularly the bronchial area. Fresh or dry tincture or infusion. Filter to remove fine hairs that can be irritating. Can also use to make an oil infusion for ear aches.

Roots: diuretic and urinary astringent. Excellent for bladder sphincter toning.

Effective against herpes simplex, especially the flowers. Mostly for women and children triggered by by Sun, food or estrogen surges.


Here are my thoughts on using mullein oil for ear aches, especially if you intend to combine with garlic or onion: USE THE GARLIC OR ONION JUICE ALONE. They are just as effective and can be kept fresh and immediately available, no waiting for infusion to "cook". Oil will go rancid over time and will waste the medicine.
 
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I see one user saying chickens eat it. But in the video, Michael Pilarski says nothing likes to eat it.

Anyone else have experience with the leaf as forage, preferably with chickens and/or goats?

It is a noxious weed in my state, which I would of course never plant, but just for general knowledge.



http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/

Chemicals in: Verbascum thapsus L. (Scrophulariaceae) -- Flannelleaf, Flannelplant, Great Mullein, Mullein, Velvetplant

Chemicals

ALUMINUM Leaf 1,090 ppm; DUKE1992A
ASCORBIC-ACID Leaf 776 ppm; DUKE1992A
ASH Leaf 86,000 ppm; DUKE1992A
AUCUBIN Root: DUKE1992A
BETA-CAROTENE Leaf 43 ppm; DUKE1992A
BETA-SITOSTEROL Seed: DUKE1992A
CALCIUM Leaf 13,300 ppm; DUKE1992A
CARBOHYDRATES Leaf 803,000 ppm; DUKE1992A
CATALPOL Plant: DUKE1992A
CHROMIUM Leaf 14 ppm; DUKE1992A
COBALT Leaf 128 ppm; DUKE1992A
COUMARIN Leaf: DUKE1992A
CROCETIN Flower: DUKE1992A
FAT Leaf 13,000 ppm; DUKE1992A Seed 35,000 - 271,000 ppm DUKE1992A
FIBER Leaf 111,000 ppm; DUKE1992A
HEPTAOSE Root: DUKE1992A
HESPERIDIN Plant: DUKE1992A
IRON Leaf 2,360 ppm; DUKE1992A
KILOCALORIES Leaf 2,680 /kg; DUKE1992A
LINOLEIC-ACID Seed: DUKE1992A
MAGNESIUM Leaf 3,230 ppm; DUKE1992A
MANGANESE Leaf 120 ppm; DUKE1992A
MUCILAGE Seed 3,700 ppm; DUKE1992A
NIACIN Leaf: DUKE1992A
NONAOSE Root: DUKE1992A
OCTAOSE Root: DUKE1992A
OLEIC-ACID Seed: DUKE1992A
PALMITIC-ACID Seed: DUKE1992A
PHOSPHORUS Leaf 5,700 ppm; DUKE1992A
POTASSIUM Leaf 13,200 ppm; DUKE1992A
PROTEIN Leaf 108,000 ppm; DUKE1992A Seed 178,000 - 183,000 ppm DUKE1992A
RIBOFLAVIN Leaf 1.1 ppm; DUKE1992A
ROTENONE Leaf: DUKE1992A
SAPONINS Plant: DUKE1992A
SELENIUM Leaf: DUKE1992A
SILICON Leaf 74 ppm; DUKE1992A
SODIUM Leaf 760 ppm; DUKE1992A
STEARIC-ACID Seed: DUKE1992A
THAPSIC-ACID Flower 2,300 ppm; DUKE1992A
THIAMIN Leaf: DUKE1992A
TIN Leaf 12 ppm; DUKE1992A
VERBASCOSE Root: DUKE1992A
VERBASCOSIDE Plant: DUKE1992A
VERBASTEROL Plant: DUKE1992A
WATER Leaf 786,000 ppm; DUKE1992A
ZINC Leaf 4 ppm; DUKE1992A

 
author
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Johnny Niamert wrote:
Anyone else have experience with the leaf as forage, preferably with chickens and/or goats?

It is a noxious weed in my state, which I would of course never plant, but just for general knowledge.



Hi Johnny-
I have never seen anything eat it, definitely not chickens.

But dont belive the noxious weed bit. It's a great plant for dry, poor areas that wont grow anything else. I notice a nice natural succession from mullein to sweet clover to grasses. I spread mullein seed abundantly anywhere that is bare, disturbed soil. For example, it has been a great primary colonizer on the backside of my pond dam, growing in pure subsoil. It creates living mulch and soil habitiat that enables other plants to get started. It is a well-mannered plant.

Makes me really scratch my head at the brilliant minds in our gov that decide some plants are evil. Who's evil? Not the plants!
 
Johnny Niamert
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Thanks Adam! Good to hear someone with some firsthand experience with it related to animals.

I was saying that kind of tongue in cheek. I collected a bunch of seed when over there at Christmas, and some may have spilled. Some more may possibly spill next spring, as well.


I finally got my soil samples off. Stand by for some more questions, when I get the results.
 
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Location: west central Missouri
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I have been using mullein for about fifty years. Second year plants or first , all the leaves will work medicinally. To minimize the need for straining the tea, I break the leaves into a size that will fit in my saucepan before drying them. that way the fine hairs don't get broken when the leaves are dry and irritate you when drinking the tea. I usually use it for coughs but it is also useful for intestinal upsets. when you can't keep any thing down, try a few sips of tea sweetened with honey. NO GUARANTEE but some times doing so about once an hour for a few times will get you over the hump of nausea.
 
Steven Feil
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Granny, does your mullein make mucilage when you brew it? I thought it did not the first time I used it in an infusion. Last few times - snotsville.

If you REALLY want a slimy concoction that will nourish, settle and soothe you guts then add some mallow and/or slippery elm to the mix! Don't add very much or you will have a gallon of drink that you can swallow.
 
Dorcas Brown
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Location: west central Missouri
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Steven, Nope, no mucilage. I just put some water in a pan and when it is almost boiling I add my mullein pieces, shake the pan a bit to slosh the water over the leaves, put on lid and let it steep for tea. If it looks very dark I may add water to my cup. I let it sit on the counter until I use it all, and then I add enough water to rinse it and sqeeze it out to get all the goodness I can out of each batch I make.
Last night I forgot to include my experiences with finding/growing the plants. The pictures that have been posted are all much bigger than any I have found in Kansas or Missouri. Generally I have found plants along country road banks as pioneer plants on rough banks. The flower stalks were easily identified. If possible, I pulled over and harvested some of the biggest leaves in good condition. with this method I gathered leaves from mid-summer to frost. In spring I tried to get small plants for transplanting. Usually I ran into tap roots that broke and the transplanted plant died. A few years ago when the soil was quite wet I managed to get one to live. Now I realize it was probably a first year plant. I did not know they were bi-annuals. That plant grew and I harvested most of its leaves before winter. The next spring it grew again and bloomed. I tried to shake seeds loose but never saw any but the next year I had a few plants.and have ever since. Never thought to harvest flowers so will try it on my two plants that I have now..If some one has seed for large plants I would like to try some but this old lady has no idea how to arrange that. Forums are fun and educational. I learn all sorts of bits and pieces [some of which are huge chunks]!
 
Johnny Niamert
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Granny, the seeds are tiny. Very TINY. They almost look like a plate of ground pepper.

I collected a bunch by pruning the dried flower heads of last year's plants with a pair of hand-held sheers around Christmas. I turned those upside down in an empty bucket and shook the inverted stalk inside the bucket.

I'll send you some, if you want to pm me an address, but they are currently 250 miles away from me, and I'm not sure when I'll be over there again. I collected them from numerous plants, some 6-7' some only a few feet. I'm pretty sure they are all the same variety, but just different growing conditions determined their size.
 
Steven Feil
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Granny Brown wrote:Generally I have found plants along country road banks

Never thought to harvest flowers



Roadside harvesting - Be careful with this method. Cars put out all kinds of nastiness that the plants near a road can absorb, especially if the road is heavily traveled. I would suggest a good distance from the road (20 feet or more) to be safe. You will need to determine if you feel the road is heavily traveled.

Mullein flowers are said to have many of the same properties as the second year leaves only stronger. I have made a tincture of the flowers I collected last Summer. See Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore for this information.
 
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It grows all over my property, I will be harvesting lots more this year.
 
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