Common mullein

Encyclopedia Article

Common mullein                            Verbascum thapsus L.

Family:  Scrophulariaceae (Figwort family)
Life cycle:  Biennial
Native status: Introduced from Europe
Habitat:   Roadsides, waste areas, pastures

General description:   Large basal rosette up to 2 ft in diameter.  Leaves are thick, densely hairy, oblong or lanceolate up to 1 ft in length.  Erect, unbranched stem produced in second year reaches height of 6 ft or greater.  Yellow flowers produced on terminal spike up to 3 ft in length.

Key ID traits:  Thick, densely hairy, grey-green leaves.

Miscellaneous:  Native to Europe.  Has been used as remedy for skin, throat and breathing ailments.  Also known as flannel leaf and bunny ears due to the pubescent leaves.  The leaves have been used for a variety of purposes, including lamp wicks, shoe inserts, and of course, toilet paper.

Common mullein forms large basal rosettes of lanceolate leaves.

Dense pubescent results in soft, thick leaves.

During second year of growth a spike up to 6 ft in height is formed.


Common mullein was a specimen in the Paris Botanical Garden (Jardin des Plantes)