Common houseleek

In Slovene folk medicine common houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum) was once considered the best medicinal plant for treating ear infections, diseases, and hearing loss. Its folk names ušnik and ušesnik (“earwort”) are derived from this use. Typically, drops of houseleek juice were applied directly to the inside of the ear. In some areas, the juice was first collected in a small bottle, which was then baked into a loaf of bread. The juice was then applied, still hot, to treat ear infections. Houseleek juice was also used to remove warts, lumps, freckles, acne, and corns. Houseleek was fried in fat to create an ointment for treating wounds and burns, and its tea was used as a diuretic. For healing wounds and other injuries in livestock, common houseleek was, in its time, used to prepare a variety of ointments, some of which also contained gentian and juniper.

Houseleek was ascribed the same powers because of its presence on the shady side of straw-thatched roofs. A house with such a roof was considered safe from lightning, and its apotropaic power was also harnessed in flowerpots and on gravestones. This use is reflected in one of its folk names, Perunova brada (“Perun’s beard”), which invokes the name of the Slavic god of thunder and lightning.

More about healing and magical plants in Slovene tradition you can read in book SACRED PLANTS IN FOLK MEDICINE & RITUALS – ETHNOBOTANY OF SLOVENIA by Vlasta Mlakar

© Vlasta Mlakar