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Lamb’s Ear: Putting a Useful Plant To The Test

Lamb’s Ear Overview

Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) is one of my new favorite plants.  Known for its light gray-green color and ultra fuzzy leaves, this low growing border plant is much more than just a pretty face.  It is useful, edible, kid friendly, hardy, drought tolerant, and attracts bees like nobody’s business.

Intrigued?  So was I.  I tried it out for myself,  here are my findings.

Putting It To The Test

Examine the fuzzy leaves and flower stalks of lamb’s ear and , and you’ll start to get to ideas about  how this plant might be useful in many ways.  I spent some time testing its various traditional uses for myself, and this is what I found:

  • lambs ear with honey bee Bee Friendly Flowers: I was sold on lamb’s ear the moment I witnessed the crowd of bees busily foraging the flower stalks. I’m always on the lookout for pollinator-friendly plants, and this one was a superstar.  The flowers themselves are a visual so-so in my opinion, many folks even trim away the flower stalks to enhance the unique foliage.  But in my garden, the flowers are too good for bees to pass up.  They will definitely get to stay.
  • Cleaning Pads:  Lorie H. commented on our Facebook page ” I always use it to clean out my chicken’s water container, it’s soft but does a great job of scrubbing the green and dirt out.”  Loving that concept, I tried using the leaves to clean some dinner dishes.  It worked like a charm.  The fuzzy texture of the leaves was perfect for wiping away leftover food.  A tip: larger leaves would be easier to work with, and scrubbing dried or baked on messes won’t work.  The leaves are wipers, not scrubbers.
  • Health Care: Rolled up leaves are perfect comfy and fragrant spacers for your toes if your giving yourself a pedicure.
  • Absorbant : leaves that had been dried overnight soaked up spills on the counter top rather well.  I will definitely be exploring this more as a possible alternative to paper towels.
  • lambs ear bandageBandages: I had a thorn in my toe.  I dressed it with a poultice and used lamb’s ear to keep the poultice in place.  It was an excellent bandage, and I wore it comfortably for hours.  Plus, it seemed to let the wound breathe well, it did the job without making the wound a soggy mess.
  • Pot Pourri:  A few few picked leaves brought into the house gave off a lovely light pineapple-y scent.  A little went a long way.
  • lambs ear toilet paperToilet Paper: Ahem.  Yes, I tried it.  It worked.  ‘Nuff said.  Except for this:  have a disposal plan in place if you’re going to try it too.  Flushing could clog your plumbing.  If you are thinking of using it for emergency purposes, think about how you’ll deal with the waste ahead of time.  Burying or burning would probably be the way I’d go in an emergency situation.
  • lambs ear bowCrafts and flower arrangements:  A lamb’s ear bow is a fun and easy craft.  I made this one in minutes, and would use this as gifts for friends and accents to flower arrangements.  The instructions I used are here.  Expand this concept to all manner of crafting, and you now have a fragarent, versitile crafting material.
  • Kid Friendly: A great way to engage kids in the garden is with lamb’s ear.  Who doesn’t love to stroke the silvery, fuzzy leaves?  Plant some just for them, and I’ll bet you find yourselves out there petting plants together.

Other Uses for Lamb’s Ear

There are many other uses for lamb’s ear that I did not test, such as its edible and medicinal qualities, among many others.  For example, “The leaves traditionally have been used in cooking from the West Indies. A lovely tea can be made from the leaves as well, tasting a bit like chamomile”, according to Sydney J. Tanner from The Herald.  Lot’s of articles have been written on these topics, but I recommend you check out Sydney’s article here, it will give you great insight into additional uses.

The Downside

Lamb’s ear is not a perfect angel.  It has a reputation for being invasive.  I’ve read reviews that range anywhere from “it’s bent on world domination” to “I’ve had no trouble in my garden”.  Based on personal observation, I would say caution is advisable.  Although the colonies seemed very easy to uproot and control, it can seed like crazy.  Make sure you plant it if and where you really want it.  In my situation, I’m ok if it spreads because I intend to use it intensively.  But keep it’s reputation in mind for your garden plans.

Summing It Up

Based on vast array of uses for this plant, I’d say its a winner.  Keep it under control, and you can have a very nice and extremely useful addition to your garden!

Sharing is Caring!

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to comment  and share.  [sharexy] I’m delighted to hear your questions and suggestions!  Thanks!


13 thoughts on “Lamb’s Ear: Putting a Useful Plant To The Test

  1. I have Lamb’s Ear in several places in my garden. In some areas, I have clipped the tall stalks after their blooms have died but before it drops the seeds. I did this to share seeds with friends. That area is under control and has not spread. However, the area that I have left the stalks/seeds to do their thing, is so full of Lamb’s Ear. So, if you don’t want your Lamb’s Ear to completely take over an area, clip the stalks after the blooms have died but before they drop seeds to keep this wonderful plant from taking over.

  2. I used lamb here to kill bad breath. I chew on it before i go to bed to get rid of bad breath…also help with gum infections

  3. It does not say how to cook it or eat it raw or what to cook it in. Broth or water or milk or or. This is my first time growing it. Be39

    1. I saw a fried dish where the leaves were lightly breaded and pan fried. I guess a middle eastern dish. You can also just pick them and eat them if you can abide the fuzzy sensation on your tongue.

  4. But keep it’s reputation in mind for your garden plans.
    Incorret usage of it’s. It’s always = it is
    its = of it, belonging to it
    explain the presence of bees on it’s stalks
    Here the stalks of it = its stalks.
    Ok, so I’m the grammar police, but still…..I did enjoy the points about the bees. I have lots of lambs ears along the edge of the driveway, noticed the many bees in the summer, but did not think I could also eat it.

  5. It’s a good and useful list. Thanks.

    Another use it has (I was hoping you’d mention it), which may also explain the presence of bees on it’s stalks, is as nesting material for Wool Carder bees (Anthidium manicatum). 🙂

    1. Hi Paul! Thanks for your comment. I did not mention it because I honestly didn’t know that Wool Carder bees used it. Thank you so much for pointing that out, it is yet another reason to adore this plant. I appreciate the input!

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