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A member of the borage (boraginaceae) family, lungwort is one of the herbs that thrive in shady and damp parts of the garden and, indeed, prefers such conditions to dry and sunny ones. It also loves chalky soil and makes a useful ground cover plant.
Lungwort is one of those herbs that are grown by many people without them knowing it, as it is often grown just as a pretty spring perennial flower known simply by its Latin name of Pulmonaria. So general gardeners are seemingly unaware that pulmonaria is a herb and has uses beyond the decorative.
Depending on variety, Lungwort ranges in height from 15 - 40cm with a spread of 45 - 60cm. It has five-petaled flowers that extend in clusters as short bells from the stems. Lungwort has creeping rhizome's that can help it to spread. Their leaves, which are pointed ovals, range in colour from plain green, through a whole host of greens with spots, blotches and smudges of white, cream and silvery grey. The colours of the flowers range from pure white through to shades of red, pink, violet and a full range of blues.
The young leaves can be picked and used to make soups and salads, and in medieval times, lungwort was a popular pot herb for adding to stews and savoury dishes. The flowers are good for spring floral arrangements and both the flowers and leaves can be dried for adding to pot-pourri.
When made into a tea, the leaves are also used as an expectorant, to relieve congestion and ease a sore throat (often mixed with coltsfoot and cowslip flowers).
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