Perennial growing to 1 ft (30 cm). Has broad oval basal leaves, smaller upper leaves mottled with white spots, and clusters of pink-purple flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Lungwort is native to Europe and the Caucasus. It flourishes in mountain pastures and in damp sites. The leaves are gathered in late spring.
Lungwort contains allantoin, flavonoids, tannins, mucilage, and saponins. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids occur in the roots, but in negligible quantities in the leaves.
History & Folklore
According to the medieval Doctrine of Signatures, which held that a plant’s appearance pointed to the ailment it treated, lungwort was effective for chest ailments because its leaves were said to resemble lung tissue.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Given its high mucilage content, lungwort is indeed a useful remedy for chest conditions, and it is particularly beneficial in cases of chronic bronchitis. It combines well with herbs such as coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) as a treatment for chronic coughs (including whooping cough), and it can be taken for asthma. Lungwort can also be used as a treatment for sore throats and congestion. In the past, lungwort was given for the coughing up of blood arising from tubercular infection. Lungwort leaves are astringent, and have been applied externally to stop bleeding.
Lungwort is subject to legal restrictions in some countries.