Meet my little friend Pulmonaria


Blue Ensign Pulmonaria

 One of my early thoughts after being diagnosed with cancer, among the fears, anger and bewilderment, was “I don’t think I’ll be so ‘into’ spring this year.” I felt cheated by this thought. Cancer has a way of forcing itself front and center, diminishing the importance of everything else in life. But it turns out Spring trumps cancer, at least for me, and I hope for others I know challenged by the demands of cancer or other serious health issues.

There are no answers, I’ve looked and asked, to the cancer questions that run amok in my mind.  Is it gone? Did the surgery get it all? Will it return? Soon? Later? Are the protocols and supplements I’m doing going to work to ‘mop’ up any left over cells or prevent re-occurrence?  With no answers, the questions get boring.  And when compared to the daily evolution of brilliant greens, bright colors, bird songs and courtships going on in our yard……Nature wins, it is a much better show!


So let me introduce you to a little plant I love that grabs my attention every time I step outside. Some of you may be familiar with Pulmonaria officinalis or Lungwort.  I highly recommend it for those who want the satisfaction of early spring color, regardless of the weather.  Like primulas, Pulmonaria is an early bloomer, is very happy with shade or partial sun, and though garden books say it does best in rich soil, in my experience it is quite happy in clay soil, maybe not as prolific as it could be, but happy, because it also likes moisture and if you grow it in soil that drains well it will need a lot of watering.  My Pulmonarias seem to need, and get, no care, but magically reappear each spring.

The Latin and common name both indicate the traditional use of the plant in herbal medicine. It was used to treat lung conditions such as bronchial infections, asthma, coughs, etc.  Modern herbal medicine does not recommend internal use of Pumonaria due to a toxic alkaloid found in the plant.  It still has a use externally for wounds, burns, and other skin treatments.

A hardy perennial, it is a rhizome plant best propagated by plant division.  Although it does produce seeds they are difficult to germinate.

If you love plants that bring visions of old cottage gardens, this is the time of year to scour nurseries for Lungwort in shades of pinks, blues, and white. There is also variety in leaf color, adding interesting foliage to a garden even after the plant has bloomed.

You were looking for a reason to go nursery shopping weren’t you?

Whoops! Forgot to mention – one of the most dear proof plants!


6 thoughts on “Meet my little friend Pulmonaria

  1. Pingback: The Times of Our Lives | Huckleberry Wanderings

  2. I’m not familiar with these plants but they look fun. Perennials are my new focus, reappearing and expanding , I love that. My neighbors and I share plants, digging up and dividing each spring. I recently planted peonies and bee balm, hoping they like their new home. I have lilies, sedum and Chinese lanterns , all from friends. It’s fun to remember where the plants came from.
    I love your phrase, spring trumps cancer! Sunshine and daffodils, all weekend! Ciao!


  3. “Spring Trumps cancer!!” A wonderful idea!
    The gifts of the senses take us outside ourselves and allow us to be grateful. And, being grateful is the most sublime state of being.
    I love your blog Penney. I’ve been so distracted lately and you have reminded me that all it takes is to step outside and welcome Spring.
    Thank you and Blessings to you and to all who you love.
    Gratefully yours,


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