Saturday, January 17, 2009


Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus, may be my first listed biennial. Its first year, the velvety leaves grow close to the ground. The next year a stalk shoots up to open its yellow flowers a bit at a time. The stalks stand throughout the winter. This seed head is over a foot tall and the whole stalk is over four feet high.

Each Mullein spike may produce 150,000 seeds and seeds can remain ready for action for 100 years! The only thing holding them back is the Goldfinch's love of these seeds.

With a day off and the temperature climbing into the teens, I was able to get out around the lake and pick up new specimens like our Mullein above. This shot was from what I call the back of the lake. It's really not the back (the back is way off the right side of this shot) but as far as the road goes.

The lake is so peaceful this time of year--mostly ice fishermen. Just a few noisy skimobiles.

I'm now labeling plants with an '_alien' or '_native' designation. The underline will float these to the top of the index. I'll be going back over previous posts and updating each entry.


  1. I don't know if you have ever seen this, but Mullein is often available in natural food stores herb sections. Also it is a common entry in old school herbals (maybe no coincidence!). I love Mullein in Indiana because I used to really wonder what it was while working on a farm in my twenties, and working in my garden in the winter. Sometimes, depending on the season and plants lifecycle, the plant will overwinter, remaining green through the springtime. Beautiful plant. Thanks for such a beautiful blog.

    Andy Coffey

  2. I collected mullein years ago for use as a soothing agent for sore throat or cough or something like that. Only thing is that, if I remember well, the leaf was to be smoked. I tried a bit but found it rough. Couldn't figure if the cure would cause more trouble!

    It really is a beautiful plant and I'm looking forward to photographing it this summer.