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Verbascum sinuatum August 2007-1.jpg
Wavyleaf mullein, Verbascum sinuatum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Tribe: Scrophularieae
Genus: Verbascum
Type species
Verbascum thapsus [1]
  • Celsia L.
  • Rhabdotosperma Hartl
  • Staurophragma Fisch. & C. A. Mey.

Verbascum (/vɜːrˈbæskəm/[3]), common name mullein (sg. /ˈmʌlɪn/[4]), is a genus of about 360 species of flowering plants in the figwort family Scrophulariaceae. They are native to Europe and Asia, with the highest species diversity in the Mediterranean.[5][6]

Mullein or "mullein leaf" often refers to the leaves of Verbascum thapsus, the great or common mullein, which is frequently used in herbal medicine.


They are biennial or perennial plants, rarely annuals or subshrubs, growing to 0.5 to 3 metres (1.6 to 9.8 ft) tall. The plants first form a dense rosette of leaves at ground level, subsequently sending up a tall flowering stem. Biennial plants form the rosette the first year and the stem the following season. The leaves are spirally arranged, often densely hairy, though glabrous (hairless) in some species. The flowers have five symmetrical petals; petal colours in different species include yellow (most common), orange, red-brown, purple, blue, or white. The fruit is a capsule containing numerous minute seeds.


Dark mullein (V. nigrum)

In gardening and landscaping, the mulleins are valued for their tall narrow stature and for flowering over a long period of time, even in dry soils. Many cultivars are available, of which 'Gainsborough',[7]'Letitia',[8] 'Pink Domino'[9] and ‘Tropic Sun’[10] have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[11]

Since the year 2000, a number of new hybrid cultivars have come out that have increased flower size, shorter heights, and a tendency to be longer-lived plants. A number have new colors for this genus.[citation needed] Many mulleins are raised from seed, including both the short-lived perennial and biennial types.

Other uses[edit]

The plant has a long history of use as a herbal remedy.[12] Although this plant is a recent arrival to North America, Native Americans used the ground seeds of this plant as a paralytic fish poison due to their high levels of rotenone.[citation needed] Verbascum flowers have been used in traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea) or externally (as ointment, tea, baths or compresses) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, skin, veins, gastrointestinal tract, and the locomotor system.[13]

The plant's stem, when dried, can be used in the hand drill method of friction fire lighting.[citation needed]


The following species are accepted by The Plant List:[14]

See also[edit]

  • Mullein moth, a species in the order Lepidoptera which feeds on Verbascum and other plants.


  1. ^ Nathaniel Lord Britton; Addison Brown (1947). An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions from Newfoundland to the Parallel of the Southern Boundary of Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean Westward to the 102d Meridian. 3 (2nd ed.). New York Botanical Garden. p. 173.
  2. ^ "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  3. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  4. ^ "mullein". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ Sotoodeh, Arash (2018). "Focusing on three Verbascum L. taxa (Scrophulariaceae) of the Flora of Iran". Adansonia. 40 (13): 171. doi:10.5252/adansonia2018v40a13.
  6. ^ Sotoodeh, Arash (2015). Histoire biogéographique et évolutive des genres Verbascum et Artemisia en Iran à l'aide de la phylogénie moléculaire. France: Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier.
  7. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Verbascum 'Gainsborough'". Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  8. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Verbascum 'Letitia'". Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  9. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Verbascum 'Pink Domino'". Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  10. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Verbascum 'Tropic Sun'". Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  11. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 106. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  12. ^ Tierra, Michael & John Lust (2003). The Natural Remedy Bible (revised and updated ed.). New York: Pocket Books. pp. 164, 180. ISBN 978-0-7434-6642-4.
  13. ^ Vogl, S; Picker, P.; Mihaly-Bison, J.; Fakhrudin, N.; Atanasov, A. G.; Heiss, E. H.; Wawrosch, C.; Reznicek, G.; Dirsch, V. M.; Saukel, J.; Kopp, B. (2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine—an unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053.
  14. ^ "Verbascum". The Plant List. Retrieved 7 March 2017.


External links[edit]