The German word for Mullein translate as “King’s Candle” and it is a truly majestic plant on our herb farm. Mullein chooses where to grow and doesn’t like to be cultivated. We let it self seed each year and have it grown throughout the gardens. We take out the rosettes when they are in the way and leave them on the edges of the garden beds so we can harvest the leaves for a cough tea and the flowers in summer for our Mullein Ear Drops.
Mullein (verbascum thapsus) is an upright biannual herb growing a rosette in its first year and a flower spike up to 2 metres tall in the second year of its lifecycle. In our moderate climate they often grow a rosette in spring followed by the flower spike in late summer or even autumn. Seeds germinating in autumn may grow the flower spike in early summer after the winter period.
It has big, slightly hairy and soft leaves and makes a great natural toilet paper in the bush or when toilet paper is sold out in the supermarkets due to Covid madness shopping.
Mullein grows on open uncultivated land and along roadsides. It does not like to be transplanted and is very picky about where it grows.
We harvest the leaves end spring/early summer before it starts to grow the massive flower spike and harvest the flowers in the middle of summer at around noon on a sunny day when they are at their most potent. Flowers need to be dry (so don’t harvest straight after rain) and we use the ones that are nice and open or just begin to open up. When harvesting in the wild avoid dusty roadsides or sprayed areas.
Mullein is a valuable herb for coughs and congestion. The leaves and flowers can be dried and combined with other herbs like thyme, licorice and hyssop and turned into a tea to treat coughs and asthma.
We steep the fresh flowers in sunflower oil and use it as a remedy to treat ear infections and ear ache along with garlic and onion. This is an amazing natural remedy and with mullein growing throughout New Zealand and is easily identified, it provides a valuable remedy for home use. It proved successful to treat ear infections as stated by a few customers that bought our KoruKai Mullein Ear Drops and antibiotic treatment was not needed.
Recipe: Mullein Oil – A Natural Ear Ache Remedy
Freshly harvested mullein flowers
Carrier oil like sunflower oil or olive oil
1) Fill a small jar half way with the fresh mullein flowers and add enough oil so all flowers are submerged.
2) Place jar somewhere visible in your kitchen and wipe the water that evaporates off the lid and sides with a clean cloth every couple of days. Make sure flowers are submerged to prevent mould and push them down with a spoon if needed.
3) Steep for 4-6 weeks.
4) Strain oil though a muslin cloth and let the water (that was contained in the flowers) settle to the bottom of the container overnight.
5) Decant the mullein infused oil making sure to not get any water from the bottom and store in a jar. An amber glass jar with a glass dripulator is best.
6) To use it simply warm up the oil to body temperature and put 2-3 drops directly into the affected ear canal while lying on the side. Lie in this position for 5 min. Repeat 2-3 times per day.
Seek professional advice if symptoms persist or earache is combined with fever especially in children.
Once the flower spikes are nice and dry, they can be dipped in beeswax or soy wax and make amazing candles. We do this every winter and go on a late evening walk with the kids before bed time. This is very exciting for them.