common mullein

(Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

common mullein

NatureServe

NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

UPL - Obligate upland

Midwest

UPL - Obligate upland

Northcentral & Northeast

UPL - Obligate upland

Nativity

Native of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Introduced and naturalized in North America.

 
Occurrence

Common and abundant

 
Habitat

Moderate moisture to dry. Pastures, meadows, woodland openings, roadsides, railroads, vacant lots, and other disturbed sites. Full sun.

 
Flowering

June to October

     
Flower Color

Yellow

     
Height

12 to 80

     

Identification

This is a 12 to 80 tall, erect, biennial forb that rises from a deep, stout taproot and fibrous roots. In the first year it produces a basal rosette of large fuzzy leaves. In the second year it produces a single flowering stalk.

The basal rosette is often showy and can be up to 40 in diameter, though it is usually much smaller. Basal leaves are soft to the touch, bluish grayish-green, stalked, oblong or inversely lance-shaped, 4 to 18 long, and 1 to 5 wide. They are tapered at the base and rounded or tapered at the tip. The upper and lower surfaces are densely covered with gray hairs that are branched at the tip in a star-shaped pattern. The margins are wavy and untoothed or shallowly toothed with rounded teeth.

The stems are erect, stout, leafy, and densely covered with gray, star-shaped hairs. They are unbranched below the middle but sometimes branched near the top.

Lower stem leaves are alternate, stalked, oblong to oblong egg-shaped, and mostly untoothed. The blade continues down the leaf stalk as wings. They are otherwise similar to basal leaves. Stem leaves become progressively smaller and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem. Upper stem leaves are stalkless with the leaf blade continuing down the stem to the next leaf below as narrow wings.

The inflorescence is a spike of many flowers at the end of the stem. The spike is densely flowered, cylinder-shaped, 8 to 20 long, and ¾ to 1¼ wide. It continues to lengthen as the season progresses. It is unbranched but there is sometimes more than one spike. The flowers mostly appear in short-stalked clusters (fascicles). Each fascicle is few-flowered and is subtended by a leaf-like or scale-like, densely hairy appendage (bract).

The flowers are to 1 in diameter. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals (calyx) are green and densely hairy. They are fused at the base into an approximately 1 16 long tube, then separated into 5 lobes. The calyx lobes are lance-shaped, 3 16 to ¼ long, and 1 16 to wide at the base. They are shorter than the subtending bracts. The petals are yellow, fused at the base into an approximately 5 16 long tube, then separated into 5 rounded, spreading lobes. The 3 lower lobes are somewhat longer than the 2 upper. The stamens have yellow filaments and orange anthers, and are unequal in length. The 3 upper stamens have short, densely hairy filaments and short anthers. The 2 lower stamens have much longer, hairless or nearly hairless filaments and long anthers. The style is green.

The fruit is a broadly egg-shaped, long, hairy capsule with many seeds. The style persists in fruit and is as long as the capsule. The seeds are brown, tiny, and ridged. They are dispersed by wind. The leaves fall away as the fruits ripen but the stalk and fruiting head persist through the winter.

 
Similar
Species

No similar species


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 28.


Comments

Nativity
Common mullein was first introduced into Virginia in the mid-1700’s as a fish poison. It became naturalized and spread quickly, reaching the Pacific coast by 1876.

Subspecies
There are three subspecies of Verbascum thapsus recognized. Only ssp. thapsus occurs in North America.


Taxonomy

Family:

Scrophulariaceae (figwort)

 

Tribe:

Scrophularieae

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

Aaron’s-rod

beggar’s blanket

big taper

blanketweed

candlewick plant

common mullein

flannel mullein

flannel plant

flannelleaf

flannelplant

great mullein

 

grey mullein

hag taper

mullein

torches

velvet dock

velvet-dock

velvet plant

velvetplant

wild tobacco

woolly mullein


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk or flower cluster.

 

calyx

The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.

 

fascicle

A small bundle or cluster, often sheathed at the base, as with pine needles.

 

filament

On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.

 

wing

A thin, flat, membranous, usually transparent appendage on the margin of a structure.

       

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Habitat

  common mullein    
       

Plant

  common mullein    
       

First Year Rosette

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Inflorescence

  common mullein   common mullein
       
  common mullein   common mullein
       

Flower

  common mullein   common mullein
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
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Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

 
     
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(Verbascum thapsus)

 
     
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  Plant portrait - Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Identify that Plant
 
   
 
About

Published on Feb 6, 2013

A detailed look at the life cycle of Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus). These images can aid in identifying this plant during all seasons of the year.

 
     

 

slideshow

     

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Other Videos

 
  Mullein [Verbascum Thapsus] Identification
BlackOwlOutdoors
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 31, 2013

Krik of Black Owl Outdoors identifies and extremely useful plant, Mullein [Verbascum Thapsus]

 
     
  Ontario Weeds - Common mullein, Verbascum thapsus L.
maclovindotca
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Dec 18, 2010

Common mullein, Verbascum thapsus L. as found in the " Ontario Weeds" publication published by the government of Ontario.

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/ontweeds/common_mullein.htm

This plant smoked is excellent for the lungs and helps removes fluids in the lungs also. I have tried it personally and it works.

 
     
  Great Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus) / Common Mullein - 2012-06-20
W3stlander
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 22, 2012

Verbascum thapsus (Great or Common Mullein) is a species of mullein.

--------------
De koningskaars (Verbascum thapsus) is een plant uit de helmkruidfamilie (Scrophulariaceae). .

 
     
  Weed of the Week #825 - Common Mullein (Air Date 1/26/14)
AgPhD
 
   
 
About

Published on Jan 30, 2014

It's our Weed of the Week, Common Mullein.

 
     

 

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