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.