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Similar but less problematic plants:
Salvia officinalis Salvia officinalis
Verbascum thapsus is often confused with:
Stachys byzantina Form
Native alternative(s) for Verbascum thapsus:
Asarum canadense Pairs of leaves
Chrysopsis mariana Chrysopsis mariana
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Chrysopsis mariana Chrysopsis mariana
Vernonia noveboracensis Form
Gaillardia aestivalis Form, Wake Co. NC
Verbascum thapsus has some common insect problems:
Twospotted Spider Mites on Landscape Plants
Slugs & Snails on Ornamental Plants

Verbascum thapsus

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
ver-BASK-um THAP-sus
Description

Common mullein is a fuzzy biennial herbacous plant in the Scrophulariaceae (snapdragon) family native to Europe and Asia.  Its distinct flower stalk can grow quickly to a height of 6 to 10 feet tall and is found growing in fields, roadsides, pastures, and waste places and has naturalized across the United States and Canada. The name Verbascum is derived from Latin word barbascum or "bearded", which describes the hairy stamens in species of this genus. The species name thapsus is in honor of an ancient village of  modern day Tunisia called Thapsus.  The common name mullein is Latin for mollis or soft in likely reference to the hairy velvety leaves.

Rosettes of large silverly green pubescent leaves form at the ground in the first year and look similar to lambs ear. These low to the ground leaves remain evergreen even under cold conditions and can provide some winter interest to the landscape.  Because this plant is a biennial, in the second year a tall flower spike of fragrant yellow flowers will appear, sometimes singular sometimes branching. The plant dies back completely after flowering but self-seeding occurs, though it is not considered especially aggressive. 

This plant prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH well-drained soil and full sun., though it tolerates some shade  While it can be found growing in a variety of soils it prefers dry sandy or rocky soil being quite drought tolerant with its fibrous root and large tap root.  It does not tolerate wet soils, but it does well in poor soil conditions, tolerates deer and rabbit browsing and thrives in urban conditions.  

Use it in cottage gardens or as a vertical element of a borer.  Because it grows so well in poor soils it does well on dry rocky slopes.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Spider mites are a problem in hot weather.  Slugs and snails are occasional problems.  Rich soils will result in needing to stake the flower stalk to prevent it from falling over. It can grow quickly and densely cover the ground out-competing native species.  This weedy plant is listed as noxious in CO and HI.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#biennial#perennials#white flowers#yellow flowers#weedy#large leaves#slopes#fall interest#cottage garden#summer flowers#herb garden culinary#deer resistant#rock garden#self-seeding#disturbed areas#hairy leaves#pollinator plant#wildflower garden#flowers mid-summer#poor soils tolerant#vertical spaces#gray-green leaves#flowers early summer#flowers late summer#border back#urban conditions tolerant#rocky soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#flowers early fall#bee friendly#roadside#meadows#wet soils intolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#biennial#perennials#white flowers#yellow flowers#weedy#large leaves#slopes#fall interest#cottage garden#summer flowers#herb garden culinary#deer resistant#rock garden#self-seeding#disturbed areas#hairy leaves#pollinator plant#wildflower garden#flowers mid-summer#poor soils tolerant#vertical spaces#gray-green leaves#flowers early summer#flowers late summer#border back#urban conditions tolerant#rocky soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#flowers early fall#bee friendly#roadside#meadows#wet soils intolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Verbascum
    Species:
    thapsus
    Family:
    Scrophulariaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Historically used as an herbal remedy.
    Life Cycle:
    Biennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees, butterflies, flies and other pollinators are attracted to the flowers.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Weed
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Mounding
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Ovoid to rounded hairy capsule 1/4" splits open into two valves, releasing 100,000 to 180,000 seeds mostly very close to the parent plant.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long-lasting
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Dense cylindrical flower cluster, a spike like raceme, usually 1/2 -2 feet long with 3/4 inch, 5-lobed yellow fragrant blooms from June to September. The height of the flower stalk is indetermanate and can reach heights of 10 feet or more. The taller stalks bloom longer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Velvety
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    4 to 12 in. elliptical leaves are pointed at both ends and taper to a winged stalk; stems and leaves are densely covered with with woolly hairs; the first year the plant produces a large rosette of grayish green, velvety leaves; the second year it sends up a wand-like leaf stalk with alternating leaves. The leaves are larger at the base and get smaller toward the top.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Pollution
    Poor Soil
    Rabbits
    Urban Conditions
    Problems:
    Weedy