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Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Common mullein Common Names: Big taper, Flannel mullein, Great mullein, Velvet dock

Description: Used for its medicinal properties as an emollient and astringent. Used to make dyes and torches.

Habit: Erect, biannual herb, grows 5-10 ft in height. 1st year produces a low vegetative rosette up to 24 in in diameter, remains through the winter, then produces a stout flowering stem in the succeeding growing season. Root system is comprised of a deep taproot and fibrous roots.

Leaves: Alternate, oblong-obovate to obovate-lanceolate, blue-gray green in color, woolly and 4-16 in long including petiole. Become progressively smaller up the flowering stem.

Stems: Erect, densely woolly with branched hairs.

Flowers: Sessile (attached to stem), borne in long terminal spikes, bright yellow in color, 5 fused petals and 1 in in diameter. Plants die after flowering.

Fruit and seeds: Fruits are woolly oval capsules that split open when mature, releasing 100,000-180,000 seeds from the parent plant. Seeds are dispersed by wind and animals, and may remain viable in the soil for over 100 years.

Habitat: Native to Asia and Europe. Found in neglected meadows, forest openings, pastures, fence rows, roadsides, and industrial areas. Common in areas with an average annual precipitation of 20-60 in.

Reproduction: By seed.

Similar species: Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria).

Monitoring and rapid response: Hand pull before seed set, bag and dispose of plants to prevent spread. Effectively controlled using any of several readily available general use herbicides such as glyphosate or triclopyr. For some sites, applications can be made during the early spring when most other non-target vegetation is dormant. Natural enemies include two insects, the European curculionid weevil (Gymnaetron tetrum) and the Mullein moth (Cucullia verbasci).

Credits: The information provided in this factsheet was gathered from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

Individual species images that appear with a number in a black box are courtesy of the network ( photo author credits may not be included due to the small display size of the images and subsequent difficulty of reading the provided text. All other images appear courtesy of Google (

Common Name:

Common mullein

Scientific Name:

Verbascum thapsus







USDA Symbol: