Mouse Ear

mouse_ear,Pilosella_officinarum
Anne Burgess [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pilosella officinarum-Mouse Ear

Family: Compositae

Other names: Hawkweed, Common Mouse Ear

Habitat: Temperate and subarctic Europe, including Britain, to W. Asia.Upland pastures, meadows, heaths, banks, on walls etc, usually on dry soil. Mouse ear plant is also found as a weed of lawns.

Mouse ear hawkweed relaxes the muscles of the bronchial tubes, stimulates the cough reflex and reduces the production of catarrh. This combination of actions makes the herb effective against all manner of respiratory problems including asthma, wheeziness, whooping cough, bronchitis and other congested and chronic coughs. The herb is mildly astringent, cholagogue, diaphoretic, strongly diuretic, expectorant and tonic. The fresh plant is antibiotic. The plant has been regarded as a specific for whooping cough and is also used in treating other problems of the respiratory system such as asthma, bronchitis and influenza. The herb is also taken in the treatment of enteritis, influenza, pyelitis and cystitis. It is occasionally used externally in the treatment of small wounds and cuts.

mouse_ear,pilosella_officinarum
By Игнатьев Сергей (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Mouse Ear:

Pilosella officinarum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in). 
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife. 

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. Needs full sun. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Cultivation of Mouse Ear:

Succeeds in a sunny position in any well-drained soil. Prefers a well-drained to dry poor soil in sun or partial shade. A common lawn plant, it is also a good bee and butterfly plant. It grows well on the top of dry walls. A strongly stoloniferous plant, it can be very invasive.

Propagation of Mouse Ear:

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown outdoors in situ in the spring or autumn. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

mouse_ear,Pilosella officinarum
By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Collection: Mouse Ear should be collected between May and June  whilst in flower and can be used fresh or dried.

Culinary uses of Mouse Ear:

None known but if you know of any use of this plant as a pot herb please do let us know!

Mouse_ear,hawkweed,Pilosella_Officinarum_botanicalMedicinal uses of Mouse Ear:

Actions: Anti-spasmodic, expectorant, anti-catarrhal, astringent, sialagogue, vulnerary.

Part used: Aerial parts.

Indications: Mouse Ear, named after the shape of the leaf, is one of the ancient traditional herbs of England and Wales. It is used for respiratory problems where there is a lot of mucus being formed with soreness and possible even the coughing of blood. It is considered a specific in cases of whooping cough. It may also be found beneficial in bronchitis or bronchitic asthma. Externally it may be used as a poultice to aid wound healing or specifically to treat herniae and fractures.

Preparation and dosage: 

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: take 1-4ml of the tincture three times a day.

Combinations: For whooping cough it may be used with Sundew, White Horehound, Mullein or Coltsfoot.

Other uses of Mouse Ear:

None known

Esoteric uses of Mouse Ear:

None known but if you use this herb for any purpose please let us know!

The Chemistry:

Constituents:

  • Umbelliferone, a coumarin
  • Flavonoids including leteolin and its glycosides
  • Caffeic and chlorogenic acids.