Fall Wildflowers of New England
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Common Mullein
Verbascum thapsus
F. Scrophulariaceae
General Description:

This relatively large plant measures approximately 60-270 cm. in height. It is most easily recognized by its light green, spike-like, elongated flower cluster. This cluster is densely packed with small yellow flowers and rests atop the terminal shoot of a robust wooly stem. The similarly wooly, large, oblong leaves of this wildflower begin at the base of the stem (basal leaves) and continue up the length of the stem to the flower cluster in an alternating fashion.

Verbascum thapsus
Flowers:

The nearly radially symmetrical, yellow flowers of the common mullein are small, measuring 2-2.5 cm in width, and are densely arranged aoround a singular, elongated, spike-like, light green flower cluster. Each bloom has five petals, five stamens, one pistil and has a significantly short (or no) flower stalk.

Fruit:

The capsule-like fruit of the common mullein is many-seeded.

Leaves:

The rich-green, velvety leaves of this wildflower are considerably large, the basal leaves being the largest, measuring approximately 30 cm. in length. They are ovate, have ridged/winged stalks, and decrease in size from the base of the stem (basal) to the base of the flower cluster.

Habitat:

The common mullein grows best in open fields, along roadsides, and around waste areas.

Fun Facts:

Common mullein is a medicinal plant, a tea made from its leaves is used as a cold remedy, and its roots and flowers can be used to treat earaches and croup. Leaves can also be used as a poultice to sooth sunburns and other skin irritaitions.

The spike-like flower cluster of the common mullein was dipped in grease and used as torches during Roman times.

Native Americans used the velvety leaves of this plant as moccasin liners to prevent against cold.

Verbascum thapsus
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