Lungwort has the botanical name of Pulmonaria. The leaves have medicinally been used to treat lung and stomach conditions, among others ailments.
Photo by @krnel
Other names for Lungwort are Coucou Bleu, Dage of Jerusalem, Grande Pulmonaire, Herbe Cardiaque, Herbe au Lait de Notre-Dame, Herbe aux Poumons, Lungenkraut, Pulmonaire, Pulmonaire Officinale, Pulmonaria, Pulmonaria officinalis, Pulmonariae Herba, Sauge de Bethléem, Sauge de Jérusalem.
Most species have white spots all over the green leaves, but some don't, like the one in my picture. It doesn't tolerate strong sun and prefers to be shaded. It's a nice decorative gardening plant that fills spots with star-shaped flowers that change color from pink to blue as they age.
- highly decorative plant
- spots resemble sickness
- name comes from symbolic association with diseased lungs
- used for lung conditions
The scientific name Pulmonaria comes from the Latin pulmo meaning lung. In the Middle Ages, the grey/white spots on the plant were viewed as a sign of it being dangerous, associating it with an inected lung. In the 19th century, those who believed in sympathetic magic symbolized it with disease and ulcerated lungs, using it to treat pulmonary infections.
Where is it found?
Lungwort is native to Europe and parts of Asia like Russia. There are 16 species of lungwort, with 8 known for cultivation: Pulmonaria affinis (France, Spain), Pulmonaria angustifolia (Central Europe to Russia), Pulmonaria longifolia (UK to Spain), Pulmonaria mollis (Central Europe to Asia), Pulmonaria officinalis (throughout Europe), Pulmonaria rubra (Balkans), Pulmonaria saccharata (France and Italy), and Pulmonaria vallarsae (Italy). The o ther 8 are not known for gardening: Pulmonaria dacica, Pulmonaria filarszkyana, Pulmonaria helvetica, Pulmonaria kerneri, Pulmonaria montana, Pulmonaria obscura, Pulmonaria stiriaca, and Pulmonaria visianii.
Pulmonaria spescies are fond in deciduous woodlands in the wild. It comes from variety of soil types, as some come from moist soils, while other are from drier regions, but in general the species prefer rich humus soil and moisture.
It was introduced to North America, and seems to only be reported to exist in the north-east of Canada in Ontario and Quebec, and a few state in the US.
What's it used for?
Uses of lungwort include treatment for breathing, stomach and intestinal conditions, kidney and urinary tract infections. It's been used as a cough medicine and even to treat tuberculosis. It also is used to relieve fluid retention. It can be applied on the skin as a drying agent and to treat wounds.
Are there any risks?
There are no known issues or side effects.
Previous posts on Getting to Know Herbs:
Cramp Bark | Motherwort | Common Plantain | Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) | Black Cohosh | Common Bearberry | Mahonia Mountain Grape (Oregon Grape) | Blue Cohosh | Goldenseal
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