Saturday, February 25, 2012

Outdoor Hour Challenge: Mullein

During this week's Outdoor Hour Challenge we focused on Mullein, as it is found in the winter.

 I planned our walk for the day this week that promised the best weather, so we were, again, out without coats. (Yeah!) We started our walk down the familiar path at Lois Greene Park, where I had noted some mullein at a previous time. Today, however, our mullein was playing hard-to-find or hide-and-seek.  After not too long, however, we found our first sample:
We retained a specimin (above) which we were able to 
examine under a hand-held magnifying glass.

However, this sample was presenting without a stalk, so we continued our search. We truly searched a long time, leaving the gravel path, continuing on a grass path, on to a pond, searching out extended fields beyond.

I was starting to think this Canada goose feather would be the highlight of our day. We decided we were done and began to head back. The boys ran ahead to the car while Angel and I meandered back more slowly. I began to find samples for future studies!
 We found some rocks for our upcoming quartz study;

 empty seed pods on a dry winter milkweed plant;

 miscellaneous dry flower specimins that appealed to us, and, oh what a surprise! A gall for our upcoming gall study!
And then, lo and behold, in the distance was spotted a mullein stalk!
 Angel didn't have the write attire and shoes for the task, so I crashed through the brush and sticker bushes and acquired our mullein stalk.
We headed back to the homestead with our cache. The next day we attempted, not successfully, to examine the mullein leaf under the microscope.

The kids learned about the plant and filled out notebooking pages. ::sigh:: Again I have no photograph, and again the nature notebook is not with me, so I'll have to summarize. I had pulled out a wild flower field guide from which we acquired common name (Common mullein), scientific name, and the specifics called for on the page (height, flower color, etc.). We learned that native Americans used to line their moccasins with mullein leaves to help keep their feet warm in winter, and the colonists would put the leaves inside their stockings for the same reason. We learned that the leaf was often used as a wick, and the dry stalk was used at times as a torch. There was much fun information in the field guide, and now that I know how to use it I know we will pull it out often in the future.

We enjoyed learning about mullein this week (and enjoyed being outside during "school" hours). Beanpole requested that we plan time for a longer hike in the future, and I promised that we would try to do that. Thank you for visiting my blog and reading about our nature study!


  1. I am seeing such a shift in things in your family! Perseverance, requests for longer hikes, learning how to use the field guide, planning ahead for future studies by keeping your eyes out for subjects...absolutely wonderful to watch. :)

    Your family is doing such a great job with the OHC. Thank you so much for letting me watch your adventures.

  2. It is funny how when you stop looking is when you start finding things. We looked for mullein to no avail. I am going to keep my eye out during the other seasons to see if I can eventually find some.