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Lamb’s Ear Vs Mullein: Are They Different or Same Plants?

enough to touch it.

The soft feeling plants like lamb’s ear plant and mullein plant are similar in many ways, particularly by looks.

Yet, there are numerous notable differences between a lamb’s ear and the mullein plant which set the two plants apart.

Lamb’s ear vs mullein: are they different or the same plants?

Lamb’s ear plant and a mullein plant may be considered to look alike but they are two different plants. The plants differ in characteristics and growth. Although both have a velvet, wool like appearance, the two plants can be identified separately through a few signs. 

What is a lamb’s ear plant?

Lamb ear plant, also known as woolly hedge nettle, and more scientifically as Stachys byzantina is a perennial plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family, native to the Middle East.

The plant is particularly known for its unique foliage, which is fuzzy and silver in appearance. Because of their lamb-like shape with soft textured growth, they are nicknamed lamb’s ear.

Lamb’s ear plant is favored on growth when there is enough sunlight and hence grows well in places where there is little to no rain.

While they are not known for their flowers rather the foliage, the plant grows seasonal flowers that give a purple hue. The flowers usually bloom during summer time and late spring days.

Growing and caring for a lamb’s ear plant is simple, however, you’d need to avoid overwatering them as they spread considerably faster. With a creeping plant in your garden, you’d need to plant them 15 to 18 inches apart, with regular edging.

Lamb’s ear plant is antiseptic and hence can be used to cure insect bites and burns. The mat forming plant can be used as a bandage or even mouthwash through the process.

What is a mullein plant?

Mullein plant is a biennial plant that has several names including the great mullein, or common mullein. The plant is named verbascum thapsus, and originates from the roots of Africa and Europe.

These erect plants are generous in size and grow leaves that are furry. Mullen plants thrive in soils that are disturbed and receive adequate amounts of sunlight.

The plant also grows flowering rosettes that appear mostly yellow with edgy and tall looks.

Mullen is not the easiest to grow and maintain due to its tendency to attract harmful insects and vulnerability to become tilted.

The plant is known for its ability to be used as a medicine and can be a cure for several cold related issues such as bronchitis, pneumonia, flu, coughing, and earaches.

Difference between mullein and lambs ear:

Lamb’s ear and mullein plant are two different plants. However, they are often confused to be the same due to the reason that they look similar. The two plants have leaves that are velvety and give off the soft textured, wooly feel.

While the two plants may look similar, there are myriads of differences between the two. Here are a few notable differences that set the two plants apart:

Classification and Originality:

The first difference is where lamb’s ear plant and mullein plant had originated from. Lamb’s ear plant originated from the lands of the Middle East and was first seen in countries such as Armenia, Turkey and parts of Iran.

Because of its wide availability, it is often thought to be native to North America which is not true.

Mullein plant, on the other hand, is a native plant to North America, Africa as well as Asia. However, this plant too can be found in Australia and USA as they later started to be grown in these lands.

Besides, while the lamb’s ear plant belongs to the Lamiaceae mint family, mullein plant belongs to the Scrophulariaceae figwort family.

Appearance and Flowers:

You might be thinking how the appearance of the two plants can be an exception if that’s what is particularly similar in a lamb’s ear and mullein plant.

Although the plants have velvety textured, matting finish appearance but the two differ in foliage, colors, and flowers.

Growing no more than 2m tall, the mullein plant has mostly yellow flowers that bloom from rosette leaves as they are closely planted together.

Mulleins also produce spiky, noticeable flowers that grow up to 5 feet, which may also be white, or even red.

One contrast, Lamb’s ear plant is a perennial plant that grows more near the ground with spread tendencies that make the plant appear like a thick carpet.

The leaves of the plant, which do not grow more than 6 inches, are a blue and green mixture and have a tongue-like shape. The purple flowers of lamb’s ear fade to a yellowish hue when springtime is nearing.

Growth and soil:

In terms of growth and soil likeability, muellein and lamb’s ear differ quite a bit. While both plants benefit from soils that are well drained, the lamb’s ear plant will thrive in acidic soils quite well.

Lamb’s ear does not grow well in harsh conditions or too much heat, which is not the case for mullein plants. Mullein plant grow well in drought conditions as well. Lamb’s ear prefers direct to partial sunlight, particularly in cool places.

Uses:

The use of mullein plant is mainly pertaining to cure in cold related issues. It can be used to cure bronchitis, flu-like symptoms, and coughing. It can also help reduce throat sores and earaches that you may get from a bad cold.

On the other hand, the use of lamb ear plants is mainly related to healing instead of curing colds. Lamb’s ear is primarily used to treat cuts, burns, and wounds in the skin. It is also sometimes used to cure insect bites.

From the mullein plant, the famous mullein tea is harvested and made in masses.

However, the leaves of lamb’s ear plant can be used as an anti-inflammatory drug ingredient to cure a cold, similar to the mullein plant.  

How do you identify a Mullein and a Lamb’s ear?

If you have a wooly, ornamental looking plant in your garden, and you would want to know if it’s mullein or a lamb’s ear plant, you would have to know how to identify one. The care of these two plants would vary accordingly.

Mullein:

If you are confused if you are looking at a mullein plant or a lamb’s ear plant, the first part to notice are the flowers. If you see flowers that are yellow and mostly grouped in clusters, you would know it is a mullein plant. 

Rosetted leaves and unbranched stems of a plant also symbolize a mullein plant. More than anything, you would notice a pole like a stem that stands stall among other bushy plants around. 

You can also identify mullein from its star-shaped trichomes that you can find around the plant. 

Lamb’s ear:

The silver appearance of the lamb’s ear plant is one of the main identification points of the perennial plant. Unlike a mullein plant, the lamb’s ear has a group of flowering stems, each of them standing tall and erect.

Other than that, the blooming purple flowers are easily noticeable even from miles away. Also, remember that lamb’s ear plant does not have a single tall branch and appears to be much more spreading and lower on the ground than a mullein plant.

What are the look-alikes of Mullein? Does it have any poisonous look-alikes?

If you are thinking about plants that look mostly like mullein but are different in traits and botany, the first to come to the list is certainly lamb’s ear.

While these two plants look strikingly similar, the foliage, color of a flower, and growth differ greatly. Luckily the perineal lamb’s ear is not poisonous at all.

Other than that, one other plant that looks exactly like Mullein is foxglove. Foxgloves are more commonly known as Digitalis, but it is an herbaceous perennial plant, unlike a mullein plant. On an important note, foxgloves are poisonous plants that should not be touched or eaten.

If you touch a foxglove thinking it is a mullein plant, you might not notice any immediate effects.

Nevertheless, the problem appears when this toxin is transferred from your fingers to your mouth or eyes. Hence, it is advisable that one should cut off any blooms of this plant.

You may identify a poisonous foxglove from a mullein plant from the appearance of its flowers. The flowers are shaped more like a tube and the colors of the flowers vary greatly from white, lavender, pink, or red.

Final thoughts

The characteristic growth and foliage of a lamb’s ear plant and a mullein plant can be a sign of the difference between the two plants. Both the plants have fuzzy leaves and wool-like appearances. However, the two plants are different in uses, originality, and growth.