Mullein Stem on Box Elder, #57 of One Hundred Ways to Make Fire without Matches. There is a link with short video clips showing how to make fire using a flower stem, a stick, and your hands below.
#57 Mullein Hand Drill on Box Elder
by PapaD Wright
From Harvesting the Raw Materials to Preparing a Mullein Flower Stem and a Piece of Dead Box Elder to Make an Ember
I can’t remember a time when I did not know how to identify the plant called Mullein from its green velvety leaves. This is most likely because I can’t remember that far back, but it does point to the importance that members of my family must have attributed to it. Mom knew it for its medicinal properties as passed down from her Scott Irish ancestry. Dad knew it for it medicinal properties as passed down from his American Indian ancestry. They were the same. A tea made from the leaves is thought to help lung problems–going back in civilized records at least to the writings of the ancient Greeks. It has been cited as a pain reliever for everything from toothache to migraines. I cannot speak authoritatively regarding these uses, but I can say for sure that the long straight stems can be used to make fire hand drill friction fire when dry.
Mullein, in its many variations around the world, has long been valued for a host of purposes–not the least of which is making fire. The leaves, seeds, bark, and pith each have specific uses in this vein, because of their low ignition temperature. The velvety bark and leaves are among the few natural materials of which I am aware that can be used to make embers in a fire piston. They make great tinder for any kind of fire making.
The tall dry stems are also ideal for use as the spindle when making fire with the hand drill method. As the pictures above indicate, the dry plant stem is distinctive and easy to identify. Mullein grows along fence rows, power lines, roadsides, in most if not all of the Lower 48 States.
Click this link to my main blog to learn this process and view short video clips. Mullein Hand Fire