Pulmonaria officinalis

Other Names
Bethlehem sage, cowslip, bloody butcher, Jerusalem sage, boys and girls, hundreds and thousands, Joseph and Mary, Mary spilt the milk, spilt milk, soldiers and sailors, spotted dog

Pulmonaria or lungwort is a European native with large hairy leaves, green often mottled with light green or white, which appear in basal rosettes. Flowers appear in early spring and may be red, blue, white or violet. Flowers are grouped in a calyx and are somewhat funnel shaped. Flowers close at night and open again in the morning.

History and Folklore

The latin name Pulmonaria comes from pulmo which means, the lung. In English, Lungwort and the German Lungenkraut also refer to the lungs. Some Eastern European names refer to honey instead, such as the Russian medunitza and the Polish miodunka


Lungworts multiply quickly and can be propagated by division or seed. They prefer moist soil in a cool, shady spot protected from afternoon heat. In hot climates they will go dormant in the summer and return in the autumn when temperatures cool down again.

Slugs love it and woodchucks will also eat it.

Magical Attributes

Lungwort is associated with the element air and is used for protection when traveling by air.

Pulmonaria leaves are used in sympathetic magic to represent diseased lungs.

Healing Attributes

As its name implies lungwort is useful for bronchial and pulmonary complaints. It is best prepared as an infusion.

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