Lamb’s Ear: Nature’s Teddy Bear and Band-Aid

Lamb's Ear Once upon a time, before the street corner devastation of the CVS/Walgreens drug wars, during a time when people went to apothecaries to get their medicine and hoped they didn’t wake up dead, pharmaceuticals were dodgy and cloth bandages… well, you only got those if you were gushing blood and you were damn lucky if the infection you got from that rag didn’t kill you.

During this time (pre-industrial revolution), cloth was a pretty scarce commodity. A woman (and it was mostly women) could spend weeks, even months making a single piece of clothing. Would you waste such efforts binding up a minor scratch or arterial wound? Hell, no! That’s what Lamb’s Ear is for, as any sensible woman from the 1700s would have told you.

Sheesh, what are they teaching these girls these days? Next thing you know they will be telling me that they let women go to school and own property and then don’t even bother to teach them to cook.

Lamb’s Ear or Stachys byzantina, as it is referred to in formal situations, is what could be called a downgraded herb. Nobody uses it anymore as an herb, but technically, it still is one.

Long ago, it was used as a bandage for minor and major wounds. Supposedly, it has some antiseptic properties, but because it is no longer used in it’s original herbal manner, there is no supporting proof of this beyond the fact that other plants in the Stachys family have been proven to have antiseptic properties.

But for the same reasons Lamb’s Ear made a great Band-Aid back in the day, are the same reasons we use it in our garden today. Soft, furry (absorbent) leaves that just make you want to give the whole plant a great big hug.

By the way, this is another one of those *duh* named plants because, guess what… Lamb’s Ear feels like a lamb’s ear.

I have Lamb’s Ear in my yard here in Cleveland. I shouldn’t, but I do. What I mean is that I planted it when I moved in, it took over the bed it was planted in, I yanked it out and it has ruthlessly made me pay for killing its parents ever since. Lamb’s Ear now pops up randomly all over my yard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the plant, but there is such a concept as too much of a good thing. Out of guilt for my act of parricide, I let it live in a few places in the yard while I try to find good homes for these orphans.

But the surprising fact to me is that Lamb’s Ear originates from mountainous regions of Turkey and Iran and is, well, it’s a weed there. It is now a weed in my yard too. The surprising thing for me here is I never would have guessed that my yard and the mountains of Iran had that much in common. Maybe I should get some goats to complete the semblance.

I once tried to use some of the leaves on a scratch that my son got on his foot. He wasn’t interested in trying it. Apparently, until they grow a Lamb’s Ear with Batman designs on the leaves, he would just prefer a Band-Aid.

9 thoughts on “Lamb’s Ear: Nature’s Teddy Bear and Band-Aid
  1. Jennifer Szuter on

    Well, today I was humbled by my 7 year old daughter, who brought me some lambs ear from our garden when her 4 year old sister scraped up her knee. I said “Honey, that is sweet of you, but we don’t know for sure that this plant dosn’t have some toxic properties which could contaminate your sisters bloodstream through her wound”. She said “Mommy, I know it’s good for a band aid”. When I asked HOW she KNEW, she told me that she read alot (which is true) and that she’d read somewhere about how lambs ear is good for wounds. I really, honestly, figured she did read that about some plant, but it couldn’t have been this one, she must be confused. Well, here it is, 11:26 p.m., I just looked it up, and found that she was exactly on target. I owe her an apology tomorrow.

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  2. vivian on

    i found lamb’s ear in my backyard, but the funny thing is that i never planted this plant. i checked it out on the web and it confirmed me that it is lamb’s ear. how did it get there?

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    Hanna Reply:

    It reseeds itself prolifically. If one of your neighbors has it, it is possible that wind or critter dropped some seeds in your yard.

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    vivian Reply:

    ohhh!that makes sense. i rerooted them and planted the plant somewhere else. thanks!

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  3. ellenthepurpleturtle on

    hello!
    i was out walking the other day and i came across a few lamb’s ear bushes(?) and i had no idea what it was but immediately fell in love with it. since then i have learned what it is and its various medicinal and crafting qualities and i would LUV to have some for my very own. my problem is that my yard is FULL ( like sunburn in three minutes full) sun all the time and the soil is just rotten. so i was wondering how well lambs ear would do in a pot? and how i would have to go around transplanting it?
    any help at all would be great!

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    Hanna Reply:

    You can grow it in a pot, but to be honest, at least as far as I have seen, hot, full sun in bad soil is EXACTLY what they like. They spread like wildfire through it in my yard.

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    Kate Reply:

    Hey,
    My Lamb’s Ear is in full sun all day, here in the Pacific Northwest. We also have it growing above the banks of the Columbia River, in super-crappy soil: mostly rocks and clay, and DRY, DRY, DRY!!! Don’t know where you live, but try it- you’ll never know if you don’t try!

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  6. Starr Miles on

    I like lambs ear. tear off a leaf. rinse it. tightly bind it to a place you are hurting. leave in place for 3 hours. keep applying it for about 2 days. surprise, the pain is gone.

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  7. Here in Central Washington, Lamb’s Ear is found everywhere!
    Years ago, I was once told that Lamb’s Ear could be dried, made into tea, and drank for the general purpose of treating
    Hay fever and other related defects. This came from a book called “Back To Eden”. Is there anyway to confirm this?

    [Reply]

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