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Sunday, 27 June 2021

I’m Not A Foxglove

Every year, self-seeded foxgloves spring up all over the garden descended from a packet of seeds bought over twenty years ago. They were multiple colours then, but have now reverted mainly to natural pinks and purples.  

Those that come up in the vegetable patch get pulled out except for a few I transplant to the border next to the neighbour’s overgrown holly bush. It is rather dry there, but foxgloves cope with it well.

 

This year, one of the transplanted seedlings seemed a bit more hairy than the others. We thought little more about it until it grew taller and we began to wonder whether it is actually a foxglove. It turns out not to be a foxglove at all. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before, certainly not in the locality. Where it came from is a mystery.

Anyway, now it is in flower we have worked out what it is. It should keep us safe from being turned into pigs. Here is a closer view and a picture clue. I doubt it will give us blossoms and almonds like that, though.

POSTSCRIPT: And here it is three weeks later. The metal post you can see in the first picture, above, is the bird feeder:


32 comments:

  1. Is it mullein? I don't understand the pig reference though.

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    1. ID to follow. Also see answer to Steve next but one below.

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    2. You were quick off the mark. We're fairly sure it's Greater Mullein (Verbascus thapsus), otherwise known as Aaron's Rod and lots of other names. We had to look it up. I wish I'd paid more attention to wild plants when I was little, so I didn't need to. I admire people who can identify these things on sight - you and lots of others below.

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  2. You will be protected from the plague.

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    1. I avoided saying Aarons Rod so early on in the comments. Aaron and Moses were protected from the Egyptian Plagues along with the Israelites as they led them out of Egypt with the rod.

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    2. I assumed you understood that from my cryptic comment.

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    3. I did indeed gather you were cryptically saying you knew. Those walking sticks were pretty powerful - parting the Red Sea and turning into serpents etc.

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  3. I don't get the pig reference either, although I understand the picture. Weirdly, one of these -- or something very like it -- sprouted in our garden this summer too. (I think ours might be lamb's ear, actually -- it hasn't bloomed yet so I haven't seen the flower.)

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    1. Odysseus protected himself from the enchantress Circe by consuming a herb called “moly”. According to one of our herb books it may have been this (although other sources suggest that moly could have been snowdrops, in which case it won't help us).
      Lambs Ear looks interesting too. The flowers should identify it.

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  4. Both are beautiful, whatever that second one is!

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    1. The foxgloves are fantastic this year. ID to follow.

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    2. See response to first comment.

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  5. Mullien, also when it has developed into a large seed head it was burnt as a torch in medieval times. I see from the net it gives you power over witches and evil spirit, keep the plant going each year is the answer!

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    1. Correct. See response to first comment. It appears to have a large number of uses including natural toilet paper, but as one of it's other properties is Quaker Rouge - to irritate and thereby redden the cheeks of women not allowed to use makeup - I'll give that a miss. It might also irritate and redden other cheeks too.

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  6. Well, whatever it is the flowers are very pretty.

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    1. It is. We hope to collect the seeds. ID in response to first comment.

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  7. I can only think it is mullein. My foxgloves are good this year too it must be a good year for them.

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  8. Mullein is one of our best respiratory herbs. If you have a deep-seated lung infection with lots of gunge, mullein will act as an expectorant. You take it as a tea from the leaves, making sure to filter all the tiny hairs, which can be an irritant. The flowers make a wonderful earache remedy. I usually infuse them in oil together with flowers from St John's wort -lots of anti-bacterial goodness. They are a bi-annual and the first year floret and roots can be tinctured to help re-align the spine, especially where there is a slipped disc. Mullein usually grows wild on the edge of fields in full sunshine. I had some appear one year in my suburban garden and now they are frequent visitors. They can be prey to the mullein moth caterpillars, which chew up all the leaves with only fragments remaining. In the days before paper, mullein leaves were prized as wiping material in the privy or out of doors.

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    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting, Sarah. It's reassuring that our knowledge of natural remedies is not lost to all of us. Reading around, it really does have a lot of uses. It's a privilege to have it. Will try to collect seeds for next year. As regards wiping material, see response to Thelma 3 above.

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    2. For others - Sarah's joyful and uplifting Kitchen Herbwife blog has other content like this, with recipes.

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  9. Unfamiliar to me and quite an interesting plant.

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    1. It was to me. Had to look it up. For ID see response to first comment.

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  10. Your foxgloves are gorgeous! The other is beautiful as well but I don't recognize it.

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    1. Greater Mullein - see response to first comment. Weaver also says her foxgloves are beautiful this year.

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  11. No matter what they are named and what they are good for, all the flowers you show us here look gorgeous and are, I assume, providing food for bees and other insects as well.

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    1. We like to grow wild flowers, keep a wild patch in the garden and let clover flower on the lawn to encourage bees and other insects, and it also brings frogs and hedgehogs too. I'm not a fan of pristine gardens where everything is chooped back and kept in its place. The yellow is Greater Mullein (see response to first comment) and the others, as I'm sure you know, foxgloves.

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  12. They grew wild on the hills around the old Central Otago goldfields - as did a profusion of foxgloves (and opium poppies incidentally). Colourful in summer.

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  13. Verbascum thapsus - common mullein. Some Native Americans lined their mocassins with leaves from the plant to keep out the cold so you could try putting some in your wellies this wintertime. I understand that the plant attracts a lot of insects which may or may not be a good thing.

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    1. Correct. Very tough but soft leaves used as insoles. Might help prevent your walking boots becoming too smelly.

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