It’s always such a treat to walk your garden after a long, hash winter and discover that a plant has survived and is flowering. Hello there! You made it! So happy to see you! I was genuinely pleased to see the tiny rose- colored flower of lungwort.
Lungwort in my garden in early May.
Lungwort’s scientific name, Pulmonaria officinalis, comes from the Latin pulmo which means lung, hence the common name: lungwort. It was the name used by herbalists in medieval times who believed that the plant was effective in the treatment of lung diseases. In 1649, the noted English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, wrote that it was good for coughs and shortness of breath – all lung related illnesses. The plant was also known in Poland and utilized in much the same way:
"This is a plant found throughout all of Poland in woods and thickets that are somewhat damp and one of the first harbingers of spring, flowering as soon as March or April and recognized by its flower which begins rose-colored and later bluish-violet" says Sebastian Kneipp in his Zielnik czyli Atlas roślin leczniczych Domowa Apteka (Herbal or Atlas of healing plants for Home Pharmacy). He recommended using the large leaves that develop after it flowers to make a tea for those suffering lung and throat ailments, laryngitis, and hoarseness.
The flower of lungwort does change color as the flower ages. Opening pink, it changes to a rose-violet color over time and at maturity will be blue due to a changing pH value within the flower.
It's Polish name miodunka, meaning honey, also indicates that it was a source of early flowering source of nectar for bees.
Illustration from Kneipp's Zielnik (Herbal of Healing Plants for Home Pharmacy)
For more on plants and flowers and Polish gardens: POLISH HERBS, FLOWERS AND FOLK MEDICINE. Hippocrene Books, Inc.
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One of the biggest moments in my life was being able to sign for my very own library card. When I'm not reading, researching and writing I'm riding my bike, sewing or gardening. I love flea markets, folk art, and traveling to Poland.