Spring is near: Common Mullein

Just as winter is turning into spring, winter weeds will soon become spring flowers and this Wednesday series will morph into a flower show.

But it will take time.

Now that the snow has melted — at least in Pittsburgh — the dormant plants have reappeared. Here’s one you’ll find easily. 

Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a non-native biennial that overwinters as a basal rosette of fuzzy leaves, 4″ to 12″ long. 

The big rosettes are one year old.  This summer each will grow a flower stalk two to eight feet high, studded with 5-petalled yellow flowers. 

After the plant flowers, it dies, but its seeds disperse to become more mullein plants in fields and along roadsides. 

There is never a shortage of common mullein.

(photo by Dianne Machesney)

1 thought on “Spring is near: Common Mullein

  1. This past spring I did .field work with some consultants from Arkansas. One day, the oldest member of the team asked me “now Mark, when you were a keed (kid) did your mama ever tell you to go outside and lick mullein?” I guess in his generation, that was a type of punishment for misbehaving “keeds”. That is way more familiar than I ever want to become with mullein!

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