Great Mullein, Common Mullein, Aaron's Rod, Adam's Flannel, Fairy Tale Plant
Verbascum thapsus

Family: Scrophulariaceae (skrof-yoo-larr-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Verbascum (ver-BASK-um) (Info)
Species: thapsus (THAP-sus) (Info)
Synonym:Verbascum lychnitis
View this plant in a garden

Category:

Biennials

Herbs

Foliage Color:

Silver/Gray

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us

Height:

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

Spacing:

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:

Grown for foliage

Velvet/Fuzzy-Textured

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Gaylesville, Alabama

Jones, Alabama

Pelham, Alabama

Wasilla, Alaska

Flagstaff, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Prescott, Arizona

Prescott Valley, Arizona

Show Low, Arizona

Young, Arizona

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Boulder Creek, California

Clovis, California

Fallbrook, California

Menifee, California

Aurora, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Danielson, Connecticut

Windsor Locks, Connecticut

Wilmington, Delaware (2 reports)

Bartow, Florida

Fort White, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Satellite Beach, Florida

Dalton, Georgia

Hazlehurst, Georgia

Ranger, Georgia

Villa Rica, Georgia

Garden Valley, Idaho

Anna, Illinois

Belvidere, Illinois

Lake Zurich, Illinois

Spencer, Indiana

Brookville, Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas

Shawnee Mission, Kansas

Barbourville, Kentucky

Benton, Kentucky

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Melbourne, Kentucky

Radcliff, Kentucky

Franklinton, Louisiana

Zachary, Louisiana

Falmouth, Maine

Oakland, Maine

Skowhegan, Maine

Cumberland, Maryland

Valley Lee, Maryland

Isle, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Madison, Mississippi

Cole Camp, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

Protem, Missouri

Morristown, New Jersey

Neptune, New Jersey

Elephant Butte, New Mexico

Los Alamos, New Mexico

Bronx, New York

Deposit, New York

Jefferson, New York

Nunda, New York

Syracuse, New York

Connellys Springs, North Carolina

Flat Rock, North Carolina

Greensboro, North Carolina

Snow Hill, North Carolina

Wake Forest, North Carolina

Glouster, Ohio

Grove City, Ohio

Kent, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Jay, Oklahoma

Baker City, Oregon

Stayton, Oregon

Greencastle, Pennsylvania

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Schwenksville, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Hendersonville, Tennessee

Lenoir City, Tennessee

Minor Hill, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Colmesneil, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Kendalia, Texas

Leakey, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Spicewood, Texas

Waxahachie, Texas

Blacksburg, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Wytheville, Virginia

Puyallup, Washington

Altoona, Wisconsin

Marinette, Wisconsin

Merrimac, Wisconsin

Muscoda, Wisconsin

Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

21
positives
2
neutrals
0
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On Aug 17, 2012, SovereignMan from Watford
United Kingdom wrote:

We now have an allotment (rented municipal plot). There is a Mullein that we have watched develope over the last 6 weeks. At a height of about five feet, the main stem went into a horizontal loop of about 270 degrees and six inches diameter. It then went straight up for about two feet.

A couple of the seed pods are starting to turn brown so we took one and split it open. There were scores of seeds inside. We expect to harvest hundreds of thousands of seeds. These may be gathered and sold. Some will be sown for future projects. It would be good to plant an avenue of these magnificent plants.

There is a cluster of approximately four seedlings about twelve feet away from the main plant so we shall dig those up and transplant them to our home garden. The... read more

Positive

On Jul 4, 2012, mommygardner from Oakland, ME wrote:

My family and I have moved back to my parent's homestead here in Oakland Maine where we have inherited 60 years of plantings (thanks to my mom). We are doing a lot of transplanting and learning about some flowers we know nothing about. We had come across the common mullein without knowing what it is until I did some computer research. We love the bright yellow color of the flower and though we only have a few we are enjoying what some call a weed. I am looking forward to many more years of research and delight with finding out what plants my mom had planted and that I can transplant at other points in our yard as the years go by. Flowers are of such beauty!

Positive

On Jan 12, 2011, xcon from Larsen, WI wrote:

this plant is great i enjoy it so much

Positive

On Jan 18, 2010, i24him from Radcliff, KY wrote:

I saw it in neighbors yard, the tip touched the top of the deck. She told me it was Mullein, that it comes back every year. I knew nothing more. I am so excited to find out all the information on it. My sister is coughing really bad with nothing coming up has been on two rounds of anitbodies. Another person or person fail to stop smoking. Another trouble sleeping. Seems I should try some do experimenting with this medicine plants. We called them wild flowers, not weeds. Me and the neighbors collect and trans plant a lot of "wild flowers". Other people consider weeds. They are merely plants with names, to us. Thank all of you, for all of the good information. Grows in Elizabethtown, KY , Vine Grove , KY, Sonora KY, Glendale, KY, Upton, KY, Radcliff, KY, Louisville,KY, Irving,KY, Frankfort,... read more

Positive

On Jun 3, 2009, wuzo15 from Connellys Springs, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

I found this plant growing on my property in a weedy area last year. It looked like a Lamb's Ear. I decided to see how it fared during last winter. I'm new to NC and was eager to see if it would "make it". Well, it did! I went on Dave's to have help with identifying it. So many helpful folks here. Although it's on the invasive "watch list" here in NC, I'm going to let it grow. The height, up to 12 feet, will be perfect for the area.

Positive

On Dec 4, 2008, creekwalker from Benton County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I LOVE Mullein! It doesn't self seed nearly enough to my liking. The flowers can be soaked in olive oil for a great skin conditioner and for ear complaints, especially for dogs ears. The leaves are wonderfully fuzzy, though you don't want to use them on your skin because it can cause dermatitis.

Neutral

On Jun 26, 2008, JulieWeatherby from Windsor Locks, CT (Zone 6a) wrote:

There are two of these at the edge of our yard, one on each side of the house. And one low one that gets mowed in the front yard.

I rather like their tall stature, top spike with a few small yellow flowers, and big furry leaves. However, they are on the National Park Service's "Least Wanted List".

Maybe I will keep the plants but not let the seeds sow themselves in the fall.

"ECOLOGICAL THREAT
Common mullein threatens natural meadows and forest openings, where it adapts easily to a wide variety of site conditions. Once established, it grows more vigorously than many native herbs and shrubs, and its growth can overtake a site in fairly short order. An established population of common mullein can be extremely difficult to eradicate. It is... read more

Positive

On Sep 22, 2006, pajaritomt from Los Alamos, NM (Zone 5a) wrote:

This plant self sows in my garden each year. I rather like it, so I only pull up a few of them. A friend from Oklahoma told me that the Native Americans cut the root off, cleaned it, put a hole through it on one end and put a string through the hole and let babies wear it to chew on while teething. This person is usually reliable.
Another friend who has relatives in England says English gardeners love to have mulleins in their cottage gardens, so she always leaves a few in hers.
Anyhow, they are lovely plants, but around here are generally considered a weed. On the other hand, keeping a few around can be quite pleasant.

Positive

On Jul 29, 2006, sallyg from Anne Arundel,, MD (Zone 7b) wrote:

Self sows, but not prolifically so. I only find a few each year, letting me choose three for my flower bed well away from the house. Goldfinches love the seeds.

Positive

On Nov 20, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Common roadside plant that has a stalk of yellow flowers that blooms mid summer. Heap Big Medicine..(or so says the Indians)

It's a naturalized European plant that has been used for many purposes throughout the centuries. Roman soldiers dipped the stalks in grease and used them as torches....the leaves are still sometimes used as wicks. Native Americans lined their moccicans with the leaves to keep out the cold, and taught the colonists to do the same.

Also big medicine in the Indian's community...tea made from the leaves was drunk to help with earache, stomache ache, and croup.
The leaves were used to soothe sunburn and rashes.

Positive

On Jun 9, 2005, julie88 from Muscoda, WI (Zone 4b) wrote:

I've seen this plant growing in the "wild" in my area for a very long time. But it was only when I saw it used in a fashionable garden magazine as an enhancement for vertical appeal in garden borders that I first took serious notice of it.

In my area (zone 4b) the plant grows in about every lighting and soil condition imaginable...but what I like best is its tolerance to dought (and neglect!)

I've transplanted *many* first year seedlings into my borders and beds without losing a single plant.

Recently I had a visitor to my garden that spotted my largest (non-flowering) speciman. She immediately *gasped* at the fact that I had a *weed* growing in my bed! LOL I told her it was only a 'weed' if a person considered it as such...and that I ... read more

Positive

On Jul 4, 2004, scooterbug from Tellico Plains, TN (Zone 7b) wrote:

A wild bi-ennial showing the beautiful silver/blue velvet leaved rosette the first year , then the second year it sends up the flower spike from the rosette.
I have not seen it colonize to more than 4 or 5 plants. I allow Mullein and wild milkweed to grow in a special part of my property designated "The Wildlife Refuge " a native habitat which is only mowed high to control noxious weeds when needed.

Positive

On Jun 15, 2004, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Yes, this plant has medicinal uses, but if you try it please DO SO WITH CAUTION. I've tried it and belive me, it WORKS! I coughed my head off! Felt great once I was done, but I'd hate to think of how bad it would have been had I taken more than a small dose.

As an ornamental, it's awesome! One of the top ten plants that get remarks from guests to my garden. Well worth the space! I want to try all the different cultivars ~ as soon as I get more flowerbeds built, I plant to.

Positive

On Jan 2, 2004, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
While researching this plant, I discovered that it has many uses especially if one is into herbal medicines. Although the flowers are fragrant and taste sweet, the leaves taste slightly bitter and have no fragrance. The fresh or dried leaves have been used to make a soothing tea. This tea provides choline, hesperidin, magnesium, vitamins B2, B5, B12, and D, para amino benzoic acid, and sulfur. However, mullein tea is primarily valued as an effective treatment for coughs and lung disorders. It is expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and astringent. The American Indian dried the leaves and smoked them. Sometimes they were blended with other herbs such as jimsonweed and/or coltsfoot to treat asthma, bronchitis or other lung problems. Also, the tea is somewhat of ... read more

Neutral

On Dec 30, 2003, MaryE from Baker City, OR (Zone 5b) wrote:

This plant grows wild here so nobody cultivates it. I think it has a taproot since it doesn't seem to need much water. My area gets less than 10 inches a year. Horses eat the dry seed stalks. Over the years I have cut down hundreds of these plants. One person's weed is another one's treasure!

Positive

On Sep 2, 2003, ravenrising from Boulder Creek, CA wrote:

This spring we noticed this plant growing in an area with compacted soil and poor drainage. The area was the former location of a barn, which was demolished a year ago. We live in the Santa Cruz mountains (Boulder Creek) in the San Francisco Bay Area. At first, we thought the plant was a lambs ear, but it kept growing.

We never saw a plant like this, so we let it grow. Our "alien plant" is now about 9 1/2 feet tall, and has a 1 foot tall spike of yellow flowers. We love it, and it has attracted a lot of attention from neighbors. We get about 70 inches of rain per year, so I look forward to seeing how many more of these grow next year.

Positive

On Jul 24, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I first encountered this plant growing in a rocky slope that bordered an artificial "creek," part of a "detention pond" system the developer had installed in my back yard before the house was built near Atlanta Georgia, zone 7a. My son first found it while he was working in the yard, and he let it grow all summer, just to see how high it would get, and we estimated it was at least 10 feet tall by the end of summer. It had it's head in the sun and it's feet close to water, and seemed to like growing in the rock.

Positive

On Jul 23, 2003, morticia wrote:

The plant began to grow and grow and grow - and we were amazed because we had not planted it! It is now over 9 feet tall and has lots of visitors to the garden pondering on what it is. It's taken me some time to find out what it is called!

The bottom leaves are now beginning to rot and turn silvery. The top has one massive spike, with several others growing out around it.

I have taken several photographs and was hoping to be named in the Guinness Book of Records. Alas, your site tells me that they grow to 12 feet tall. Ah well, there's always next year!

Positive

On Jun 20, 2003, Maudie from Harvest, AL wrote:

I 'let' this plant grow in my flower garden because the large velvet leaves are so attractive.
Bees and butterflies enjoy it and it needs no special attention. It seems to prefer dry conditions and makes a taller stalk in dry weather. Just remove the seeds before they mature to keep it from becoming invasive.

Positive

On Jun 19, 2003, booplady wrote:

Reporting from Cottonwood, AZ

Our Mellein was a gift from a passing bird (we guess), who delicately deposited a seed in our raised flower bed.

This is the second year for our gift, which has developed a stalk about 6 feet tall and a second stalk (both with flowers) that is about two feet tall

Since this part of the country is facing a water shortage this is definitely a plant for our area.

Positive

On Apr 25, 2003, auntgracie from Danielson, CT wrote:

It seems funny to see what I've always considered a weed, albeit an attractive one, pictured as a garden flower. We have one that grows wild on a gravel bank behind my trailer. It hasn't spread anywhere else that I know of. The soil it grows in is awful, full of rocks and roots, but every year it springs into bloom from mid-to late-June into July. I've never deadheaded it-it was never necessary. The thing grows taller than I am.

Positive

On Apr 24, 2003, ArbaStar from Snow Hill, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

In New Bern, NC, at Tryon Palace, they grow it in their cutting garden. It really looks great in cut arrangements.

The guide informed us during the tour of the gardens, that during the 1700's the leaves were used to wrap fruits and vegetables to prevent bruising.

The tall, yellow flowered spikes are great. They certainly add height in the garden.

They can be invasive.

Positive

On May 22, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Pioneer plant, often appears in recently disturbed areas. Difficult to transplant. When grown in good garden soil, plant can grow to 12' with multiple stalks/flower heads.

More a curiosity than a beauty, it is used as a medicinal herb. Leaves are made into a tea which is drunk to help relieve chest congestion (pretty foul taste). Cattle that eat leaves get intoxicated.

First-year plants look just like Thumbelina could be hiding in center of plant, very appealing to small children for a "fairy tale garden" along with rapunzel, etc.

New leaves are velvety-soft (like lamb's ear), become coarse and prickly as they age.