Does anyone grow their own toilet paper? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

When people come to see us, my husband tells them we grow everything, but our own toilet paper. However, last summer we were up visiting some people on the Indian reservation north of us and on a walk we were told that this certain plant was indeed used by the oldtimers and Indians for toilet paper. It had the softest leaves, almost like velvet, but no one knew the name of it. Does anyone else??? It is low to the ground and grew wild in sandy loam. We have an outhouse with gabled eves, if you can believe it and a double seater to boot! I want to plant some of this plant around it with a couple of lilac bushes (for fresh room spray) What more could our city slicker friends want???? Thank you!

-- Marie in Central WA (, February 23, 2002


The plant is called Lamb's Ears. It's very soft and feels fuzzy. Easy to grow. Will try and find the latin name for you. It should be easy to find at a plant nursery. If not, ask the clerks to help you locate some from another source.

-- juana (, February 23, 2002.

Saw a cute bumper sticker the other day..."when people complain about us cutting trees, I tell them to use plastic toilet paper".

-- al (, February 23, 2002.

I had someone tell me you could use comfrey for toilet paper. I've never tried it myself. I've still got a death grip on my charmin :o). I don't mind using an outhouse and not having running water or electricity but doing without charmin is just a bit more rustic than I can take!

-- (, February 23, 2002.

My opinion is, it is probably Mullein. Mullein is low to the ground the first year and sends up a flower stalk the second year. You can see a picture of the flower it produces here:

The first year it is just a rosette of leaves. It is a wonderful plant and has medicinal uses as well. The best way to get it is ti dig up a small clump and move it into the garden. Much softer than charmin. Leaves are much bigger than lambs ears too.

Little Bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (, February 23, 2002.

I never thought about a specific plant, when I backpack all I worried about was not using something like holly or worse....;)

-- GT (, February 23, 2002.

As a boy in North Dakota (Knife River area) we used a plant while out living on the land in the summer called 'pig weed'. It has large leaves, not very soft, and grows on disturbed soil and was very effective.

Of course, you could always use poison ivy for unwanted visitors. :>))

-- Joe (, February 23, 2002.

Comfrey...HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!! Don't make me laugh so hard, the neighbors will hear!!! Oh, HA Ha, you had might as well use stinging nettles, Ha ha ha!! Haven't any of you ever gotten those little hairs stuck in your hands if you handle confrey without gloves? Comfrey toilet paper- it might be good as a gag, if you don't want the friends to visit again! Ha ha ha!

-- Rebekah (, February 23, 2002.

Just plant some corn and do like the old timers did. Corn cobs were used for years in Tennessee. LOL

God Bless.

C & C

-- Charles Steen (, February 23, 2002.

I vote for using junk mail. LOL LQ

-- Little Quacker (, February 23, 2002.

The plant you are looking for is Lamb's Ear it is silver in color...low to the ground...and is very fuzzy. It was also used as bandages in the olden days 'cause the hairs clot the blood. It is relatively easy to find at your local garden nurseries.It is a it will be back year after year.School is still out on Comfrey causing cancer.... Good Luck!

-- Carla (, February 23, 2002.

LQ is aiming in the right direction!! Years back, I read in an old Mother Earth News an article where someone was making their own paper. What was produced looked like toilet paper all right. It wasn't smooth enough to write on or make anything out of it. The idea was to use virtually any and all paper instead of throwing it away. I personally have more junk mail than I ever believed possible. Since much has personal info on it, it must be shredded. So, why not make some toilet paper? All I remember about the method involved making a mush out of the paper. Using a screen to flatten the mush and force the water out. Anyone know the method?

I must admit I still love my soft stuff on a roll bought in a big 24 pack! Can anyone else remember when you could only buy a single roll at a time? It was a lot more expensive than it is today and it wasn't at all soft!! Ouch! I believe that it was rationed back in the 1940's during war times.

Best to ALL! Nita

-- Nita Holstine (, February 23, 2002.

There is a plant here that we call "Indian Toilet Paper". Its actual common name is Button Weed. It grows 2-3 ft. tall and has heart shaped, very soft leaves. I've used it in emergencies. Hey, don't forget to put some back issues of Countryside in your outhouse for the "city slickers". Really show them what they are missing while they are busy.

-- Harmony (, February 23, 2002.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned burdock. At least around here is is soooo plentiful. Of course it usually grows near nettles, ouch wouldn't that be a rude awakening!!!!

Lambs ears sound pretty luxurious, and so does mullen. I think it may be any of them. Pig weed/button weed might be it too. It is too bad there isn't a picture.

-- Susan in Minnesota (, February 23, 2002.

I did an internet search on "toilet paper plant". All sources point to Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus). Lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina) is not a native plant and definitely not comfrey (YEEOUCH!!). Did you see any of the plants flowering? Mullein has a tall (3-4ft) flower stalk with yellow blooms. Good luck!

-- Bren (, February 23, 2002.


-- Bren (, February 23, 2002.

Help! Here I was trying to be all fancified using HTML and I can't figure out how to fix my mistake. KAREN!! Help me!

-- Bren (, February 23, 2002.

I suspect that mullein is the plant as it's everywhere, and the leaves are soft. They were used as bandages during the Civil War when cloth was at a premium.

-- Katherine in KY (, February 23, 2002.


-- (anon@anony.mos), February 23, 2002.

One more time... Hmmmm.

-- Bren (, February 23, 2002.

During the depression on the farm we used sears and mongomery ward catalogs. I dont reccommend them.

-- Tom in OK (, February 23, 2002.

It could be lamb's ears, but those leaves are pretty small. My bet is mullien.

-- Mike PA (, February 23, 2002.

Thank you for all of your help. We were there in August and there were nothing blooming, but I will definitely check in to the different plants mentioned when the garden shops open this spring. If all else fails I will take my shovel and some pots next time we go up. I'm pretty sure that I will recognize it once I see it.

-- Marie in Central WA (, February 23, 2002.

holly would be bad, but poison ivy even worse..

-- js (, February 23, 2002.

Mullein sounds right - but it could be velvet leaf (piemaker) it likes sandy, dry soil.

-- Elizabeth Quintana (, February 23, 2002.

Corn cobs will work, but just remember that you will need at least three of them. Two red ones and one white. Use one of the red ones first and then use a white one to see if you need to use the other red one. Happy Future, jim

-- Jim Raymond (, February 23, 2002.

I vote for mullein: Verbascum bombyciferum. I have grown it for the last couple of years; the leaves get huge, and stay soft and flexible even when dry. It's not a perennial here, so I have to start it every year. I got the seeds from Germania Seed Co. in Chicago, but I'm not sure if they sell retail. I've also gotten seeds for something similar from Burpee's, but the leaves were not the same.

-- Marcia in MT (, February 23, 2002.

I think it was mullien, but as with all botanicals, try it in a less"sensitive" spot first! An allergic reaction on the inside of your wrist would sure be kinder than in a spot you can't scratch in public! Our mullien around here loves to grow where not much else will...transplanting is a chore as it has a tap root that I believe is edible(don't quote me haven't had time to check my book yet!) Heh, I haven't bought TP since the fall of '99 and probibly won't untill next year sometime..y2k was good for something!

-- Bee White (, February 24, 2002.

I agree with earlier comments, probably Mullein. In one of my herb books it stated this was once used as T.P. - aslo called Indian Tobacco, as it's good for Bronchitis. Any who wants wild harvested Mullein seeds, just let me know. We have acres of clean mullein in my parts, and I harvest some flowers and leaves about every other year.

-- Michelle in NM (, February 24, 2002.

You people are hilarious. :-)

-- chuck in md (, February 24, 2002.

Do like they do in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh: use water. Use your left hand only, while pouring water from a spouted container. Then wash your hands well with soap and water. Works great, and no running out -- unless you run out of water. We have a little dishspray type hose plumbed in next to the toilet. Works grat, and I think if you have babies, I would rig a flip-down drainboard sort of thing so you could wash their bottoms handily and it would all go straight into the toilet.

-- snoozy (, February 24, 2002.

Marcia in MT, my A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants says V. bombyciferum is Turkish mullien and that it is a bienniel or a short lived perennial. Variety 'Silver Lining" is often cultivated as an annual and has silvery white, very silky-hairy foiage. I bet it is beautiful!! Thanks for telling us about it! :o)

-- Bren (, February 24, 2002.

Or, use a spray bottle, or even cut and hem some rags and throw into a container to wash later--no different than diapers, really, and cheaper than those wipes they're now selling....

-- GT (, February 24, 2002.

When my brother and I would spend all day in the woods a long walk from home, we would use grapeleaves. We knew what they were and knew they were safe.

The lambs ears or whatever would work fine when things are growing but the suggestion about water and old rags sound allright for the winter. Just keep some water warmed on the woodstove, heater, or whatever so you have warm and not icey water for your hiney.

-- LBD, in MD (, February 24, 2002.

The guy who mentioned water for toilet paper... I lived overseas for a while and lived in the Company Barracks of the Company I worked for. Everyone was a Asian nationality. I brought to the attention of the owner that he did not supply toilet paper to his employees. I found out that the bucket next to all the toilets was indeed used by the workers (their custom) to wash themselves with after they did their thing and then wash their hands. Only thing I can say is they certainly were much cleaner down there than their American counterparts! But I hope they always washed their hands too!

-- Ken Rush (, February 25, 2002.

I've used spruce cones when in the northern woods. You just have to remember to swipe in the right direction, or the scales catch!!!!! I have used mullein when available, and it is the crowned jewel buttwipe. It is not native to my area, and has not migrated here as an introduction, yet. There are few plants that I will choose to introduce to my region, and as lovely a wipe as mullein is, it is just too weedy for my conscience to grow on my land, I'm still debating comfrey for other reasons.

-- roberto pokachinni (, March 09, 2002.

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