Medicinal Properties of Woolly Lamb’s Ears
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Le Anne Hakimi
Posted on: August 21, 2001

I am growing a profusion of medicinal herbs and shrubs and all but one I have extensive information on. It’s Lamb’s Ear, and I remember reading somewhere that it was used medicinally, but I can’t seem to find that reference again. I’ve searched and searched and all I can find is that it was at one time used as bandages (I can believe that!) and that it makes a wonderful moonlight garden plant, owing to it’s silvery leaves. Do you have any information on its medicinal uses?

Woolly lamb’s ears is also known as woolly woundwort. Botanically, the currently accepted name is Stachys byzantina but older books refer to it as Stachys lanata. The Stachys genus has several other medicinally active species including Stachys officinalis, the common wood betony, and S. palustris, the marsh woundwort, so it is not perhaps not surprising that lamb’s ear might have medicinal properties similar to these two. Marsh woundwort, for example, was reputed to heal wounds rapidly, with supporting antiseptic and antispasmodic properties. The juice of betony is used to heal cuts, external ulcers and old sores. We did not find any documented evidence in Richters library and databases that lamb’s ears has the same properties, but it wouldn’t surprise us that it does. Certainly, as you have noted, the soft woolly leaves are a natural choice for use as a bandage for purely physical reasons, and if, like betony or marsh woundwort and other Stachy species, it were to have additional medicinal effects when the fresh juice of the leaves seeps into the wound from the bandage, it would make for a doubly useful first aid herb.

Also, tips on cultivating it? It’s very healthy and vigorous now and growing like crazy, but I’m not sure what to do with it for winter. I’m uncertain what zone I’m in (I thought it was 5 or 6, but we rarely get below 5 or 10 degrees Farenheit, so I’m not really sure).

To find your zone, you can check the USDA plant hardiness zone map which you will find on our website in the "Richters InfoCentre" area.

Lamb’s ears is very hardy, and very easy to grow. It requires full sun, good drainage, and little more. Over the years your patch will become overgrown and will need to be thinned out every, perhaps, 2-3 years. To keep the patch neat you can cut back the flowering stems once they have finished flowering and they are beginning to develop seeds.

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