common mullein

(Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

Conservation Status
common mullein
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

UPL - Obligate upland


UPL - Obligate upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

UPL - Obligate upland


Common mullein 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.




12 to 80


Flower Color




Similar Species

  No similar species  

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




June to October


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 28, 29, 30.




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

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.




Common and abundant

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Lamiales (mints, plantains, olives, and allies)  


Scrophulariaceae (figwort)  
  Tribe Scrophularieae  
  Genus Verbascum (mulleins)  
  Species Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)  

Subordinate Taxa


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






Common Names



beggar’s blanket

big taper


candlewick plant

common mullein

flannel mullein

flannel plant



great mullein

grey mullein

hag taper



velvet dock


velvet plant


wild tobacco

woolly mullein













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



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



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



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.



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

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Natasha Hurston

    common mullein   common mullein  


    common mullein      


    common mullein      

First Year Rosette

    common mullein      


    common mullein   common mullein  
    common mullein   common mullein  


    common mullein   common mullein  



  Great Mullein
Wez Smith
  Great Mullein  

Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

  Common Mullein
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Common Mullein  

(Verbascum thapsus)

  Verbascum thapsus COMMON MULLEIN
Frank Mayfield
  Verbascum thapsus COMMON MULLEIN  
  Plant portrait - Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Identify that Plant

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.




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Other Videos
  Mullein [Verbascum Thapsus] Identification

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.

Uploaded on Dec 18, 2010

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

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

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)

Published on Jan 30, 2014

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




Visitor Sightings

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  Natasha Hurston
8pm or 8:33pm Thursday

Location: Oxford, Alabama

are they poisonous around here if so please email me back

common mullein

  John Valo

Common mullein seeds are toxic. The plant contains rotenone and coumarin, which the US Food and Drug Administration classifies as potentially dangerous. However, parts of the plant are safe for consumption in reasonable quantities.

Tea was made from the roots and white clover flowers to treat asthma. Another tea was made from the leaves and flowers to treat a variety of respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments. However, the teas should be strained before consuming. Fuzz from the leaves may irritate sensitive skin and throat membranes.

— Adapted from Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada, MacKinnon et al., 2009, Lone Pine Publishing

  Brian Stock

Location: Richfield, MN

Single common mullein plant growing in my front flower bed in Richfield, MN.  Didn't know if I had planted it or not until I looked up what it was.  Will remove it tomorrow.


Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

Baker Park Reserve

Banning State Park

Beaver Creek Valley State Park

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Big Stone NWR

Big Woods Heritage Forest WMA

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Blanket Flower Prairie SNA

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Blue Mounds State Park

Boot Lake SNA

Brownsville Bluff SNA

Buffalo River State Park

Bunker Hills Regional Park

Camden State Park

Cannon River Turtle Preserve SNA

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carley State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Highlands WMA, South Unit

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Chimney Rock SNA

Chippewa Prairie

Clear Lake SNA

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Clinton Falls Dwarf Trout Lily SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Crystal Spring SNA

Des Moines River SNA

Dodge Nature Center

Dry Sand WMA

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Falls Creek SNA

Felton Prairie SNA, Bicentennial Unit

Flandrau State Park

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Fort Ridgely State Park

Fort Snelling State Park

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes Preserve

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Gneiss Outcrops SNA

Great River Bluffs State Park

Greenwater Lake SNA

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hampton Woods WMA

Hardscrabble Woods / MG Tusler Sanctuary

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Hastings SNA

Helen Allison Savanna SNA

Holthe Prairie SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Iron Springs Bog SNA

Jay Cooke State Park

Jensen Memorial WMA

John A. Latsch State Park

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Keller Regional Park

Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Kellogg Weaver Unit

Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Weaver Dunes Unit

Kilen Woods State Park

La Salle Lake SNA

Lake Alexander Woods SNA, South Unit

Lake Bemidji State Park

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leif Mountain

Lester Lake SNA

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Maplewood State Park

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

McKnight Prairie

Miesville Ravine Park Reserve

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Mille Lacs Moraine SNA

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR, Black Dog Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Long Meadow Lake Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Louisville Swamp Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Rapids Lake Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Wilkie Unit

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Morton Outcrops SNA

Mound Prairie SNA

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Rengstorf Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Touch the Sky Prairie Unit

Old Mill State Park

Ordway Prairie

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Ottawa Bluffs Preserve

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

P.N. and G.M. Nelson Wildlife Sanctuary

Partch Woods SNA

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Crookston Prairie Unit

Pigeon River Cliffs

Pilot Knob

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Plover Prairie, East Unit

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Racine Prairie SNA

Red Rock Prairie

Regal Meadow

Rice Lake Savanna SNA

Rice Lake State Park

Ripley Esker SNA

Ritter Farm Park

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Rockville County Park

Rushford Sand Barrens SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

St. Croix State Park

Sakatah Lake State Park

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Savage Fen SNA

Schaefer Prairie

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Mile Creek County Park

Seven Sisters Prairie

Seven Springs WMA

Sheepberry Fen

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Creek Prairie SNA

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Springbrook Nature Center

Sunfish Lake Park

Swedes Forest SNA

Tamarack Nature Center

Thorson Prairie WMA

Town Hall Prairie

Tribute WMA

Twin Lakes SNA

Twin Valley WMA: North Unit

Uncas Dunes SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Vermillion River WMA

Westwood Hills Nature Center

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Woodbury WMA

Woodland Trails Regional Park

Yellow Bank Hills SNA

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA







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