Plant A Day – Moth Mullein

Moth Mullein Verbascum blattaria

Moth Mullein
Verbascum blattaria

There are four species of Mullein in Indiana and none of them are native, which is too bad because they’re cool looking plants and it would be nice to claim them as our own.

Far and away the most common of the Mulleins are the Common Mullein (imagine that), and the Moth Mullein.  The “Ohio Perennial & Biennial Weed Guide” states that “Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a related species that is also a biennial and similar in appearance to moth mullein. ”  This is funny because they don’t look at all alike.  If you saw both plants side by side you would never guess that they were that closely related.

There are some similarities.  They both are biennials which produce a simple rosette of leaves the first year and then a spike of flowers the second year.  They both grow best in “waste places” where there is little competition.

So why the name “Moth Mullein”?  Because the petals look like moth wings and the stamens look like antennae!

These don't look at all like Common Mullein

These don’t look at all like Common Mullein

Once in a while, you come across a plant with yellow flowers

Once in a while, you come across a plant with yellow flowers

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