Archive for August, 2008

Common Mullein

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus

Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus

This is one of my favorite plants, and one I remember being fascinated with when I first encountered it as a child. Growing up, behind our house was “The Woods”. This was really a mix of pine and young oak as well as an abandoned field. If you went far enough (a few hundred yards), there was a low-lying wetland with a creek running through it.

I first saw this plant on the edge of the field. It was starkly different from anything around it: large grey-green leaves that looked like they were cut from felt. Years later I learned that what I had seen was the first year “basal rosette” of a common mullein. In its second year, it shoots a spike up with yellow flowers that open a few at a time. They can easily reach 6′ and sometimes they branch into many flower heads – all pointing up.

Today when I mow the lawn, I carefully maneuver around any mullein I see – remembering the sense of wonder I had when I first discovered one in “The Woods”.