Saturday, 31 March 2012

Ode to lungwort

This is an ode to one of my favorite early spring flowers: lungwort (pulmonaria). They can brighten up a large plot of brown bare soil after winter, and it grows and spreads really easy. The plant is especially interesting because one stem can have different colors of flowers, from blue to pink, which gives a very playful and whimsical effect. The plant especially stands out because of the leaves, which are soft and speckled with light spots. 

Next to their aesthetic values (at least to us), it is also one of the oldest herbs used in folk medicines in Europe. It has a funny history: the shape of the leaves was compared to lungs, and the spots resembled affections on the bronchial tubes. From this, our ancestors did not only deduced the name lungwort, but also its use as a medicine for bronchial illnesses. And indeed, as later scientific studies revealed: lungwort contains substances that soften (dry) coughs, bronchitis and other lung complaints! Coincidentally (or perhaps symbiotic?), this plant grows exactly in the seasonal change from winter to spring in which many people suffer from colds and coughs.

The parts to use from this herb are the leafs during blooming time. You can make tea out of it, prepare it as vegetable or in soups, and it looks (and tastes) pretty in salads as well. I would definitely take this one home with me!

Bibliography: Verhelst, Geert. 2010. Groot handboek geneeskrachtige planten (4e druk), Wevelgem: BVBA MANNAVITA, pp. 459-60.

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