Lungwort is one of the common names for the plant genus Pulmonaria, which includes about 18 different species. All plants in the Lungwort genus are flowering species and most are found in Europe or Asia. Plants of this genus are perennial, which means that they flower for more than two seasons, and are herbs. Other common common names for the genus include Spotted dog, Soldiers and Sailors, and Jerusalem Cowslip.
Plants of the Lungwort genus are often amongst the first to flower during the spring. For this reason, they are popular with gardeners, especially those who want to brighten up the garden before more plants begin to flower. Lungwort plants are also often used as an indication by gardeners that spring has arrived.
The plants are natively found in parts of Western Asia and Europe. There is, however, one species that is natively found in central regions of Asia. The plants also have spread to the United Kingdom.
Typically, Lungwort herbs thrive in areas that have a lot of shade and are damp. Although the plants can grow in warm conditions, they prefer a wet and cool climate. Usually, the plants grow to no taller than 24 inches (about 60 cm), but most are significantly smaller than this. The plants are considered to be hardy and grow best in heavy types of soil.
The flowers of the plants usually have five petals that grow in small clusters that extend from the stems. Leaves of the herbs are usually pointed in shape, although there is some variation between the different species. There is also variation in the color of the leaves and flowers. For example, flowers can range from white to blue, depending on the species.
Plants of the genus not only are popular for their flowers, but also for their leaves. The plant’s large amount of foliage means that they cover large areas of ground, which is often useful in gardens. The variety in flower colors also makes them attractive to gardeners.
In traditional medicine, Lungwort herbs were sometimes used to treat lung diseases, which is probably where the genus got its name. Certain medicinal substances are said to be present in the herbs, although most claims regarding its benefits are not proven. The herbs are rarely, if ever, used today, mainly because they are known to contain toxic substances that can be dangerous for humans to consume.