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:
- 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.
- Bandages: 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.
- Toilet 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.
- Crafts 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.
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!
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