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Common Lungwort

Pulmonaria officinalis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Boraginaceae (Borage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, roadsides, woodland.

Blue, 5 petals
Reddish clusters of hairy bell-shaped flowers, often turning bluish, up to 1cm in length. Broad sepals.
Shiny, flat nutlets.
Semi-evergreen. Large, downy, oval, pointed and sometimes narrowing at their bases. The leaves are pale-spotted.
Other Names:
Bethlehem Sage, Blue Lungwort, Common Lungwort, Jerusalem Cowslip, Jerusalem-sage, Joseph and Mary, Lungmoss, Maple Lungwort, Mary's Tears, Oak Lungs, Our Lady's Milk Drops, Soldiers and Sailors, Spotted Comfrey, Spotted Dog, Spotted Lungwort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Pulmonaria officinalis, commonly known as lungwort, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is known for its blue, pink, or purple flowers that bloom in the spring, and its leaves that are typically spotted or speckled with silver or white. The plant is used in traditional medicine as a remedy for respiratory ailments such as coughs and colds. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial to full shade. It is hardy and can tolerate frost and cold temperatures. It is also a popular choice for gardens due to its attractive flowers and foliage.


Common lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) is a species of flowering plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It belongs to the family Boraginaceae and is commonly found growing in shaded woodland areas, meadows, and along hedgerows. It has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant due to its various health benefits.

The plant is characterized by its hairy, oval-shaped leaves that are green with white spots when young and turn a solid green color as they mature. The flowers are pink or blue in color and bloom in early spring. Common lungwort is a herbaceous perennial that can grow up to a height of 30 cm.

Historically, common lungwort has been used to treat respiratory ailments such as bronchitis, asthma, and coughs. The plant contains mucilage, which is a thick, sticky substance that can soothe irritated mucous membranes in the respiratory tract. It also contains saponins, which can help to loosen phlegm and make it easier to cough up.

Common lungwort has also been used to treat digestive issues such as gastritis and diarrhea. The plant contains tannins, which can help to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and alleviate diarrhea. It also has astringent properties that can help to tighten and tone the tissues of the digestive tract.

In addition to its medicinal properties, common lungwort is also an important food source for bees and other pollinators. The flowers are rich in nectar and pollen, and the plant is often used in gardens to attract bees and other beneficial insects.

While common lungwort is generally safe for human consumption, it is important to exercise caution when using any herbal remedies. As with any medicinal plant, it is important to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using common lungwort to treat any health condition.

Common lungwort is also known for its high content of flavonoids, which are compounds that have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help to protect the body against damage from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can contribute to the development of various diseases.

In addition to its medicinal and ecological benefits, common lungwort has also been used for culinary purposes. The young leaves of the plant can be eaten raw or cooked and have a mild flavor that is similar to spinach. They can be used in salads, soups, and stews or cooked as a vegetable.

Common lungwort is also sometimes used in traditional folk medicine for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. The plant's mucilage content can help to soothe and moisturize dry, irritated skin, while its astringent properties can help to tighten and tone the skin.

In recent years, common lungwort has been the subject of scientific research for its potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that extracts from the plant may be effective in reducing inflammation and preventing the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Common lungwort has also been used traditionally to treat urinary tract infections, due to its diuretic properties. It can help to increase urine flow and flush out bacteria that may be causing an infection.

Additionally, common lungwort has been used as a natural remedy for menstrual cramps and other menstrual issues. The plant's astringent properties can help to reduce heavy bleeding and relieve cramping associated with menstruation.

In some cultures, common lungwort has been used as a spiritual herb. It is believed to have protective and cleansing properties and has been used in rituals to ward off negative energies or to bring good luck.

It is worth noting that while common lungwort has a long history of traditional use, there is still limited scientific research on its efficacy and safety. Therefore, it is important to use caution when using the plant for medicinal purposes and to seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Another interesting use of common lungwort is its potential as a natural dye. The leaves of the plant contain a purple pigment that has been used to dye wool and other textiles. The color produced by the dye can range from purple to blue-gray, depending on the mordant used and the pH of the dye bath.

Common lungwort can also be propagated easily by division or by collecting and planting its seeds. It prefers moist, well-draining soil and partial to full shade. It can be grown in woodland gardens, shaded borders, or in containers.

In terms of its conservation status, common lungwort is not considered endangered or threatened. However, its habitat is declining due to deforestation and urbanization, which can lead to a reduction in the plant's population. As a result, it is important to protect and conserve the habitats where common lungwort grows in the wild.

One interesting aspect of common lungwort is its symbolism in traditional folklore. In some cultures, the plant was believed to have magical powers and was associated with divination and prophecy. It was also said to be associated with the lungs, and its spotted leaves were thought to resemble the appearance of diseased lung tissue. As a result, common lungwort was sometimes used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory ailments.

In Christian folklore, common lungwort was also known as "Mary's tears" or "Our Lady's milk drops," due to the white spots on its leaves. Legend has it that these spots represent the milk that fell from the Virgin Mary's breast while she was nursing the infant Jesus.

In addition to its folklore and traditional uses, common lungwort is also a popular ornamental plant in gardens. Its attractive flowers, spotted leaves, and low-maintenance growth make it a great choice for shaded areas or woodland gardens. Its flowers are also an important source of nectar for bees and other pollinators.

Finally, it's worth noting that common lungwort should not be confused with lungwort lichen, which is a type of lichen that grows on rocks and tree bark. While lungwort lichen has a similar name and appearance, it is not related to the common lungwort plant and does not have the same medicinal or culinary uses.

Overall, common lungwort is a fascinating and versatile plant with a rich history of traditional use and cultural symbolism. Its medicinal properties, ecological benefits, and ornamental value make it a valuable addition to any garden or natural medicine cabinet.


Common Lungwort filmed in Rivington, Lancashire on the 5th March 2023.


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