common mullein

Scrophulariales > Scrophulariaceae > Verbascum thapsus L.
Synonym(s): big taper, flannel mullein, flannel plant, great mullein, mullein, velvet dock, velvet plant, woolly mullein

Common mullein is a biennial forb native to Eurasia and Africa. Plants are unbranched and can grow to more than 6.6 ft. (2 m) tall. First year plants develop as a basal rosette of felt-like leaves. Basal leaves are 4-12 in. (10.2-30.5 cm) long, 1-5 in. (2.5-12.7 cm) wide and covered with woolly hairs. The plant bolts in the second year. Flowering occurs in June to August, when five-petaled, yellow flowers develop at the apex of the shoot. Cauline (stem) leaves are decurrent, alternate and decrease in size towards the apex. The fruit is a ovoid capsule that splits releasing many seeds that germinate in water. Common mullein was introduced to North America in the mid-1700s as a fish poison.


Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

  • Weeds of the Week - USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area, Forest Health Protection

Selected Images from Invasive.org

Click on each thumbnail to download the image at 1536x1024 resolution or below for available resolutions.
Use 768x512 for Microsoft PowerPoint and use 1536x1024 for Prints and Publications.

Plant(s); habit
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Plant(s); Rosette
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Plant(s); June. Photo from Forest Plants of the Southeast and Their Wildlife Uses by J.H. Miller and K.V. Miller, published by The University of Georgia Press in cooperation with the Southern Weed Science Society.
Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Foliage; leaves
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Flower(s);
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Flower(s);
Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, , Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Flower(s); deformed flowerhead
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Fruit(s);
Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, , Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Plant(s); habit
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Plant(s); habit on aa
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Plant(s); in flower
Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Seed(s);
Steve Hurst, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Diagram or Graphic; Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 3: 173.
USDA PLANTS Database, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
768x512 / 1536x1024

Invasive Reference(s):

Check Invasive.org for most current lists.
  • California - Invasive Plant Inventory
  • Colorado - Noxious Weed Law
  • Georgia - EPPC list
  • Tennessee - EPPC List
  • Mid-Atlantic - EPPC List
  • Invasive Plants: Western North America
  • Invasive Plants: Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species
  • Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest


External Links


footer line
USDA Forest Service Bugwood University of Georgia