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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lamb's Ear, the Bee magnet, Pet a Plant





Once you get hooked on the fun of herbal gardening you soon want to know what the name of every plant you see and what it can be used for. Be it medicinal, edible, cosmetic, insect pollinator, butterfly gardening, companion planting, crafts, aromatics or even just to enjoy as a visual beauty.

One plant in particular that meets most of those criteria is Wooly Lamb's Ear (Stachys Byzantina). This fuzzy, wuzzy fun-loving plant is a favorite for any child's garden. It's thick, fuzzy leaves are soft, easily dried and a pleasure to simply play with whether you are an adult or a child. The soft leaves can serve as "worry stones" to stroke mindlessly while lost in thought. During imaginative play, children often pretend they are beds or carpet floors for the wood fairies. 
On a more practical note, this plant serves as a very good toilet paper, tissue or even menstrual pad if in a pinch.

 

Lamb's Ear has been used for centuries as a wound dressing on battlefields. Known as nature's band-aid, the leaves not only absorb blood and help with clotting, but they contain antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. 

For eye problems such as sties and pinkeye, knead a few leaves to release the juices and simmer in a small pot of water. Cool and strain (use a coffee filter) the infused liquid and use as an eyewash.

If stung by a bee, knead a leaf to get the juices released and apply to the bite to reduce swelling.

Lamb's Ear is also edible. The young leaves can be eaten fresh in a salad or gently steamed as greens.

Simmered and use as a healing hot tea for relief from a sore mouth and throat, fevers and diarrhea.

For those of you into crafts, you will love, love this herb. With its texture and soft gray color it dries easily and blends beautifully for wreaths, potpourri and can even be made into bows.

As a bee plant this choice is a true winner. Once in bloom you'll be amazed at the number of bees Lamb's Ear attracts. You'll have to resist the urge to cut it back once those flower spikes start losing their appeal and get lanky. You'll find bees on those flowers till the bitter end. Don't be too concerned about those bees becoming pests. They are only concerned about those flowers and really do mind their own business.


Easy to grow, this plant is a perfect solution for a low maintenance rock garden, around a homemade pond or as a ground cover. If happy where it is planted, it will easily spread and though some may find it invasive, it is not difficult to control. With shallow roots, it is simple to pull out and replant elsewhere if desired. Drought resistant, Lamb's Ear actually forms a mat, leaving little room for weeds. With a shallow root system, it doesn't like humid or wet conditions or it'll rot off.

Lamb's Ear happy around a homemade pond


Lamb's Ear easily spreads to thrive in an herb garden