How a pest (mullein moth caterpillar) greatly increased my mullein flower harvest

September 10, 2018

It is always a pleasant surprise when the odd mullein plant (Verbascum thapsus) turns up in my garden every now and then. The majority of my garden has the feel of a shady woodland so not your typical growing conditions for mullein . Fortunately my veggie patch has a good deal of sun and is well drained so I was happy to spot the unmistakable broad grey furry leaves of a baby mullein plant right at the front of my veg bed.

Rosette of leaves of mullein plant before flowering

I watched it grow over the next few weeks, the basal rosette of leaves getting larger and larger by the day almost. One day i noticed a few holes in the leaves and on closer inspection, a handful of black, yellow and white spotty/striped caterpillars. An internet search confirmed mullein moth caterpillar (Cucullia verbasci).

Should I pick them off and offer them to the chickens? Should I just leave them to it ? I hadn’t planted this mullein so it was a happy accident that it was in my garden in the first place. In the end I couldn’t bring myself to destroy them, I figured it wasn’t my place to play God on this one so I left them to it.

Usual single stemmed mullein flower stalk

Over the next few weeks, I watched with interest and some dismay as every single one of the big broad furry leaves were reduced to tattered strips and the centrally emerging flower stalk was annihilated. All eaten and covered in caterpillar shit. I assumed that was the end for the mullein plant but consoled myself with the thought that at least a new generation of mullein moths would be born into the world in the next few years.

Then something really lovely started to happen. Gradually, new flower stalks began bursting out from all around the old eaten flower stalk. The growth culminated with a huge multi pronged candelabra of flower stalks around 5 feet tall, each stalk plastered with mullein flowers.

Multi-stalked flowering mullein after caterpillar feasting

Every couple of days I was able to harvest mullein flowers. Each time I picked a batch, I could see masses of new flower buds behind them just waiting for their chance to bloom. Mullein is such a generous plant anyway, giving medicinal gifts in the form of flowers, leaves and even roots. And of course, masses of seeds for re-planting.

One of many mullein flower harvests

Altogether, I have harvested around 25g of flowers from one plant, all thanks to the ‘pest’ called the mullein moth. Over the next few years the caterpillars will emerge from their below ground slumber as mullein moths. I look forward to their future caterpillar offspring and this time will welcome them with open arms!

Mullein flowers all dried out and ready for use

Find out more about the medicinal uses of mullein flowers (and leaves and root) here.

 

 

 

Centaury (Centaurium erythraea)- healing powers fit for the Gods.

August 30, 2018

This small pink flowered plant is named after the great centaur Chriron, a dedicated healer and mystical being who taught Asclepius (considered the original father of medicine) the art of healing. Legend has it that Chiron healed himself of an incurable poison arrow wound with this herb.

It is an excellent wound herb for sure yet is also one of our finest and most effective native bitter tonic plants for digestive complaints.

Discover why this native UK plant is deemed worthy of the Gods https://www.thewildpharma.co.uk/plants/centaury

 

Posted in: Plant Profiles

Schisandra chinensis – the 5 flavoured berry for balanced health

June 12, 2018

These beautiful shiny red berries have 5 flavours present in one  – sweet, salty, sour. spicy and bitter. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using them for centuries to alleviate wasting and debilitating chronic diseases.

They invigorate ‘Qi” , the vital life force of the body and are another herb that seeks to promote balance in the human system. At last science is starting to take note and studies on these powerful little sherbet tasting berries are being conducted in earnest, revealing a wealth of medicinal actions and uses.

Read more about these incredible little berries here.

Schisandra chinensis berries

Posted in: Plant Profiles

Schisandra chinensis – the 5 flavoured berry for balanced health

June 12, 2018

These beautiful shiny red berries have 5 flavours present in one  – sweet, salty, sour. spicy and bitter. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using them for centuries to alleviate wasting and debilitating chronic diseases.

They invigorate ‘Qi” , the vital life force of the body and are another herb that seeks to promote balance in the human system. At last science is starting to take note and studies on these powerful little sherbet tasting berries are being conducted in earnest, revealing a wealth of medicinal actions and uses.

Read more about these incredible little berries here.

Schisandra chinensis berries

Help idle women to create the UK’s first physic garden dedicated to women and girls

April 19, 2018

idle women, the organisation who creates contemporary art with women are
launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise £25,000 to buy land in Nelson in
Lancashire for the UK’s first physic garden for women and girls.
idle women’s physic garden will be dedicated to medicinal herbs that women have
used for centuries, from menstruation to pregnancy and childbirth, and beyond to
menopause and old age. The garden will be planned, designed and developed with
and by local women in collaboration with female experts in herbalism, garden design,
women’s health and horticulture. Women will be able to learn practical skills including
architectural landscaping, building (for an outdoor classroom and compost toilet) and
gardening, as well as participate in seasonal workshops on natural health using herbs
for culinary and medicinal purposes. The garden will also be a peaceful retreat where
women can take a break from daily routines, make new friends or simply have space
for reflection.

https://www.idlewomen.org/

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/idlewomen-physic-garden

 

Posted in: Herbal Stories

A passion for sleep – Passiflora incarnata

March 30, 2018

The beautiful purple passionflower (Passiflora inarnata) is a very reliable remedy for getting you to sleep and helping you stay asleep for  longer. It doesn’t leave you feeling zonked the next morning either. If circular thoughts and rambling mind chatter keep you awake at night or trouble you throughout the day then passionflower may be for you.

Purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

 

Discover what else this stunning plant can do   https://www.thewildpharma.co.uk/plants/passionflower

Oatstraw- deep nerve nourishment

March 7, 2018

This mildly sweet tasting brew, rich and gold in colour, is a prime nerve tonic. Loaded with nutrients needed by the nervous system (magnesium, calcium, B vitamins & silca) it has a deeply fortifying action on the nervous system, which in turn helps ease the whole mind and body into a sense of rest and fulfillment.

Discover the may medicinal uses of oatstraw at https://www.thewildpharma.co.uk/plants/oatstraw

Buy organic oatstraw tincture (£3.70 for 50ml) and dried herb (£1.10 per 25g) in our shop.

Posted in: Plant Profiles

Neem – the village pharmacy tree

February 5, 2018

Neem (Azadirachta indica) is a familiar tree to many in the Asian continent as a source of valuable remedies for many disease conditions including malaria, dengue fever and leprosy. It is extremely useful in agriculture too,  especially organic agriculture as it is a potent insecticide. It also improves soil fertility, helping to grow healthier plants and animals.

Although I am relatively new  to using neem as a medicine, the more I learn the more I love it. It is very powerful in its actions though and you need to be aware of its quirks and side effects as well as which parts to use, how much and how often.

Here are all the notes I have built up so far……….https://www.thewildpharma.co.uk/plants/neem

Azadirachta indica ( Neem leaves and flowers)

Stinging Nettle – an all round super healer.

January 17, 2018

I sometimes get asked what my most used or favourite medicinal plant is. Easy. Nettle (Urtica dioica) wins hands down for its wide ranging medicinal attributes, its sheer versatility, its vast array of health benefits, its mild nature, its nutritional content. In fact I can’t think of many health conditions from the mild to the severe that I wouldn’t use nettle for.

From arthritis to atheroma, backache to blood circulation, eczema to energy providing, osteoporosis to ovarian cysts – find out what else it can help with and how incredibly easy it is to use as a medicine and food https://www.thewildpharma.co.uk/plants/nettle 

Great Mullein – shows you the door and hands you the key

December 4, 2017

This tall and stately looking plant with its furry grey leaves and spike of yellow flowers is a prime remedy for the lungs and respiratory system. It is a key ingredient in many lung strengthening and cough formulas yet is also excellent for healing connective tissue damage (ligaments, tendons, muscle and bone) and easing pain and inflammation.

Discover the long list of other benefits https://www.thewildpharma.co.uk/plants/mullein including its more subtle and metaphysical uses.

Posted in: Plant Profiles

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