Today’s plant is Stachys byzantina, more commonly known as Lamb’s Ear, Rabbit’s Ear, or Donkey’s Ear (i.e. pretty much any long-eared furry mammal). For anyone who has never heard of Lamb’s Ear, it is the plant you so DESPERATELY want to PET. Well, I always do anyway. Every time I walk by this particular plant, I have the irresistible urge to run its soft, downy leaves between my fingers and imagine myself petting a small kitten, puppy, or rabbit. Covered in a dense silvery “fur” these plants are irresistible to both children and adults, gardener and non-gardener alike, and for this reason, work great in sensory and children’s gardens (or let’s be honest pretty much any garden) where touch is an important component to the overall experience. Their low growing and intertwining growth pattern also makes them a great groundcover option.
Although most often utilized for ornamental purposes (due to the aforementioned softness appeal and look), Lamb’s Ear also possesses medicinal and culinary uses. When harvested, dried, and steeped in boiling water, the leaves can be utilized to make a rather refreshing tea. Eaten raw or as steamed greens, it can add texture to an albeit rather fuzzy salad or stir-fry. Utilized in a medicinal salve or dressing, it can help to stop bleeding in small cuts or wounds. In other words, Lamb’s Ear is human, pet, and curiously-teething-on-everything two-year old safe.
Photo by Karelj
Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina) grows best in zones 4-8, reaches a height of 6-12 inches with a spread up to 1 foot, prefers well-drained soils, flourishes best in full sun, blooms in early summer, is best known for its attractive foliage, and should be divided every 3-4 years to prevent leaf rot.
If you find Lamb’s Ear as irresistibly pettable as I do, contact us at 703-679-8550 today to learn how they can fit into YOUR landscape!