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Verbascum sinuatum August 2007-1.jpg
Wavyleaf mullein, Verbascum sinuatum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Tribe: Scrophularieae
Genus: Verbascum
  • Celsia L.
  • Rhabdotosperma Hartl
  • Staurophragma Fisch. & C. A. Mey.

Verbascum (/vɜːrˈbæskəm/[2]), common name mullein (sg. /ˈmʌln/[3]) (also known as velvet plant), is a genus of about 360 species[4] of flowering plants in the figwort family Scrophulariaceae. They are native to Europe and Asia, with the highest species diversity in the Mediterranean.

Mullein or "mullein leaf" often refers to the leaves of Verbascum thapsus, the great or common mullein, which is frequently used in herbal medicine.[4]


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 mullein seeds.


Dark mullein (Verbascum 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',[5] 'Letitia'[6] and 'Pink Domino'[7] have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Since 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. Many mulleins are raised from seed, including both the short-lived perennial and biennial types.

Other uses[edit]

Verbascum thapsus has a long history of use as an herbal remedy.[8] According to Aristotle, the Phoenicians used the ground seeds of this plant (in Greek πλόμος, later φλόμος) as a paralytic fish poison,[9] whereas Hippocrates used it for treating wounds.[10] Flowers of Verbascum species have been used in the 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.[11]

The stalk of the plant is considered a first-rate drill for use in the hand drill method of friction fire lighting.[citation needed]

Selected species[edit]

See also[edit]

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


  1. ^ "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". Retrieved February 11, 2014. 
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  3. ^ "mullein". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ a b c "The most complete source of Verbascum". The most complete source of Verbascum. 
  5. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Verbascum 'Gainsborough'". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Verbascum 'Letitia'". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Verbascum 'Pink Domino'". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Tierra, Michael & John Lust (2003). The Natural Remedy Bible (revised and updated ed.). New York: Pocket Books. pp. 164, 180. ISBN 0-7434-6642-X. 
  9. ^ Αριστοτέλης: Των περί τα ζώα ιστοριών, Βιβλίον 8, Κεφάλαιον 20 (Wikisource). Ἀποθνήσκουσι δ' οἱ ἰχθύες τῷ πλόμῳ· διὸ καὶ θηρεύουσιν οἱ μὲν ἄλλοι τοὺς ἐν τοῖς ποταμοῖς καὶ [...] λίμναις πλομίζοντες, οἱ δὲ Φοίνικες καὶ τοὺς ἐν τῇ θαλάττῃ. Ποιοῦνται δέ τινες καὶ δύ' ἄλλας θήρας τῶν ἰχθύων.
  10. ^ Ιπποκράτης (460 π.Χ. - 380 π.Χ.): Περί ελκών (Wikisource)
  11. ^ 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 3791396Freely accessible. PMID 23770053. 


External links[edit]