Talk:Verbascum thapsus

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Potential danger?[edit]

Since many people smoke this plant, or make it into tea, etc., perhaps its similarity to foxglove should be noted. Not sure what the consequences of smoking foxglove would be Zer0Cool 12:45, 10 July 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Older entries[edit]

Are you sure that common names should be in bold with in the body of the text? This plant is a common "weed" naturalized in north America and other parts of the world were it is a pest species in grain and hay fields. You just have to visit a few farms to see that it grows in the fields, were it can interfere with harvesting due to its thick hard stalks. Since its a biennial tilling tends to remove it but in fields that are not tilled heavily it persists to flower. Hardyplants 14:03, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Merge of Mullien to Common Mullein[edit]

I agree that the Mullien page be merged into Common Mullein. 'Mullien' is just a misspelling of mullein. DavidCooke 04:16, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

Actually much of it might be better merged with Mullein. Although the text starts with Verbascum thapsus, most of the article seems non-specific to the individual species and later mentions white mullien which would appear to be V. lychnitis. -- Solipsist 10:22, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, the redirect should obviously be to Mullein, but I'm not familiar enough with the entire genre to know what article the information is best merged with. Circeus 16:06, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

Definitely merge the 'Mullien' to Common Mullein. I agree it's an obvious misspelling. As an herbalist whose favorite plant is CM, the Common Mullein article here is excellent. Thank you.Berrymoon 15:43, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

GA comments[edit]

This article is way over-linked. It makes it difficult to read. Does "decades" really have to have a link? Is every link necessary? KP Botany 18:52, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

I've tried to address to address that alongside User:choess comments. Circeus 20:52, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Nice article. This sentence in the lead paragraphs is awkward and confusing: "While not an issue for most cultures, it hosts many insects that can be harmful to other plants, such as the tarnished plant bug, and although individuals are easy to destroy by hand, it is difficult to destroy a population permanently." What do you mean by "not an issue for most cultures"? Also, the sentence has too many phrases and would ideally be broken up into two sentences. --NoahElhardt 15:46, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Split and reworded the sentence.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm assuming you are working toward FA, so I'll be picky. Some of these I could fix myself, but I'll just explain here so you can make changes as you see fit:

  • In the Morphology section: "The second year it produces a tall stem 1–2 m tall...". Try to avoid using "tall" twice in one phrase.
    • YesY done.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In the Morphology section: I would prefer metric units listed first, then American, but I don't recall if that comes up in the MOS anywhere.
    • YesY The order should ideally stay the same as the original, but it should be consistent. There is agreement that plants found only in a place using a specific should have that system first. Since only one place had imperial first, i switched it around.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In the Morphology section: "The stem is solid (nearly an inch across) and is sometimes branched". Try replacing the parenthesis with commas or working the material into the sentence.
    • YesY reworded.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In the Morphology section: "sometimes branched just below the inflorescence,[2] typically doing so when damaged.". Maybe strike the "doing so"?
    • YesY removed.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In the Morphology section: "yellow and an inch or less wide, and five stamen." Give both American and metric units.
    • Since I just added a measure for "inch" above at the stem, It seemed redundant here.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In the Morphology section: "capsules containing large numbers of minute (less than a millimeter) brown seeds." Work material in parentheses into sentence and give in both units.
    • YesY Though I'm not too happy with the result... Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Can you give some kind of description of the different subspecies? I assume they differ in more than just distribution. They may warrant their own section.
    • User:MPF located the list. I haven't been able to add anything to it.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
      • I'll see if I can dig out any further info - MPF 13:09, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
  • In the Distribution and naturalization section: "The species has a wide native range...". Animals have a range, plants have a distribution. I think.
    • "Range" and "Distribution" appear to be mostly synonymous: [1], [2], [3]. Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In the Distribution and naturalization section: "and is naturalised in North America" NaturaliZed
    • YesY done.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
      • "naturalised" restored; -ise is correct for a UK native species, as per the WP:MOS guidelines on regional relevance - MPF 13:09, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
  • In the Distribution and naturalization section: "By the 1630s, it was already escaped". Change to "it HAD already escaped", but I'm also not really comfortable with using the word "escaped" on plants. I completely understand what you are trying to say, but people with less botanical understand might not. Maybe make it clear somehow that the plant didn't uproot itself and hop the fence to freedom.
    • YesY *giggles* Replaced with "already fond in the wild." Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In Ecological aspects: "Common Mullein is most frequently met as a colonizer of bare and disturbed soil." Awkward. Change to something like "Commen Mullein most frequently grows as a colonizer..."
    • YesY done.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In Ecological aspects: "It is not an agricultural weed, although its presence can be very difficult to completely eradicate, and is especially problematic in overgrazed pastures." If it is difficult to eradicate, why isn't it an agricultural weed? Why would it be especially problematic in overgrazed pastures? Explain, considering the average reader doesn't have much of an agricultural background.
    • That paragraph is intended to summarize the "Agricultural impacts and control" subsection, whose first paragraph goes into greater details about this very element.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In Ecological aspects: "in nature, it will only appear if the seeds are exposed". Change "appear" to sprout, germinate, grow, etc.
    • YesY Ouch. Used "do so," referring to "germinate" in the previous phrase.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In Ecological aspects: "although the American Goldfinch was reported to consume them." Change to "has been reported to"
    • YesY done.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In Ecological aspects: "and Victoria, Australia (regionally prohibited in the West Gippsland region, and regionally controlled in several others)." Maybe change to "Australia, where it is regionally...." to work out parentheses?
    • Not sure about this. I wanted to place the specific levels in parenthesis. Moving "West Gippsland" outside the parenthesis leaves a problem with "several others." Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In Ecological aspects: Maybe move this last paragraph on weeds to the preceding section on Distribution and naturalization?
    • By now, said paragraph (one sentence) has been added to the first paragraph of "Ecological aspects" instead. It id not seem to meld well in the previous section. Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In Life cycle: "Common Mullein requires vernalization before it can flowers, which is the reason why it is a biennial." Cut "the reason".
    • YesY done.Circeus 17:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

That's all I have time for at the moment, but I hope to finish reading and commenting through. If you'd rather I just make the edits rather than bring them up here, lmk. --NoahElhardt 16:17, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

GA review[edit]

  1. Well written:
    1. Compelling prose: In the third paragraph of "Morphology", try to rewrite so that two sentences in succession do not start with "The flowers are". The first sentence of "Cultivation and naturalisation" should read "a naturalised weed in North America...". In "Agricultural impacts and control", the phrase "A study found V. thapsus to host" would probably read better without the infinitive: "A study found that V. thapsus hosts". Just below, the meaning of "specific feeders" is unclear: specific to the species? The genus? In the first paragraph of "Medical use", "that as transmitted" should read "that was transmitted". In the second paragraph, "external conditions" would, IMO, read better than "external problems". "was recommended against" should perhaps read "was recommended for treating". "found contain" would, as aforementioned, read better without the infinitive. On the other hand, "as containing" should read "to contain". Below, "common" is misspelled, and "transferred on" should be "transferred to". In "Other uses", "as being able" should just read "to". In the second paragraph, "with warmth keeping" should be rephrased "keep them warm" or simply "insulate them".
      • Should be all taken care of. Fixed a few extra wording and grammar issues along the line.
    2. Logical structure: Perhaps "Life Cycle" should be a first-level, rather than a second-level heading? Also, the bit about "Gordolobo" is a bit problematic. Gnaphalium conoideum and Senecio longilobus are both similar in leaf appearance, but V. thapsus doesn't really resemble them. According to the source cited, they seem to have been confused, somewhat inexplicably, by an early Spanish botanist. This should be rewritten to more accurately conform to the events described in the source.
      • I've restored my original structure, where "life cycle" and "agricultural impacts" were under "ecological aspects". The new one (by User:MPF) had a few other things I wasn't happy with (such as sections with a single subheaders. Gordolobo bit rewritten.
    3. MoS: Please use en-dashes instead of hyphens when expressing a range of numbers.
      • done
    4. Jargon explained: yes, but as the previous comment observed, the article is somewhat over-linked. Common nouns such as "leaf", "flower", "autumn", "insect", etc. should probably not be linked; linking should be restricted to proper nouns and more technical terms, such as "biennial", "rosette", and "taproot". Also, words should only be linked once: the first link to "weed" is probably OK, but the term should not thereafter be linked.
      • tried to remove as many as I could.
  2. Accurate and verifiable:
    1. Referenced: Excellently so.
    2. Inline citations: in profusion
    3. Reliable sources: all sources appear to be reliable
    4. NOR: None apparent.
  3. Broad in coverage:
    1. Addresses all major aspects: as far as I can tell. Covers morphology, reproduction and ecology, impact on agriculture, and human uses.
    2. Focused on main topic: Yes.
  4. NPOV: not really an issue with Mullein, happily.
  5. Stable: appears so.
  6. Images:
    1. Tagged and captioned: the picture in the taxobox should be captioned.
      • Done
    2. Non-free or fair use rationale: OK.

Please address these issues and I would be happy to examine it again and probably approve it for GA. Choess 23:49, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

*Checks "address GA comments" on to-do list.*
Oh, however, all these "done" refers not to the article, but to the version at User:Circeus/Verbascum, which is still being worked on to include extra material I've discovered in the meantime. Circeus 21:00, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

It seems Choess has been absent for the past week or so. I see you still haven't copied over your rewrite. Do you have any idea how much more time you'll need to work on it? I don't want to fail it while you're working to address complaints, especially since your initial reviewer hasn't been around for further feedback, but it's already a week past the time the hold period should have expired.

I don't see any major issues with the rewrite, but:

  • There's still some overlinking -- goats, chickens, sand, gravel? Common terms shouldn't be linked unless they're of particular relevance. (For instance, "seed" is directly relevant when talking about a plant.)
  • Web references should all have a "retrieved on" date and follow a consistent format. The DOI at the end of the section appears out of place, too.

Very minor, and should require very little time. If you're not finished expanding it, however, and you plan to be a while, it might be better to remove it and renominate it once the work is complete. Shimeru 05:41, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

The DOI is for an article I still need to integrate the content of in the article, I have been kept from working on this by various things, and will try to do it (and the overlinking thing) ASAP. I'm a terribly slow worker on my articles, I'm afraid.Circeus 06:35, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Okay, thanks for the quick response. I'll leave it on hold, with a note. Shimeru 06:49, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Good Article[edit]

Excellent work. I feel this meets all of the Good Article criteria, and I'm happy to promote it. Congratulations, and thanks for all your hard work. Shimeru 19:19, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

from Old French "Moleine"[edit]

the words are close, but it appears to be from an anglo-saxion word- molegn I do not have the date of the word but its the root of the common name mullein pronounced woolen as English changed. this by way of my 1940 webster encyclopedic dictionary. there has to be a better source but not in my small collection of books. I will work on clearing more of the red links- have nothing more to add to the article so please do your best to clean up my edits.Hardyplants 16:20, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

I had also done some research that tended toward French sources (or I wouldn't have reverted). I can look deeper into it, since I hadn't looked specifically in etymological dictionaries. Circeus 10:33, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Cleanup in Taxonomy Section[edit]

I suppose it's not much of an issue since the article has already attained FA status, but I think the Taxonomy section could be made clearer and easier to read by discussing the features of the subspecies directly beneath where they are listed rather than clumping all of the information into one paragraph. I thought of doing this myself, but I thought it best to see if anyone else is opposed to this. Djlayton4 | talk | contribs 17:39, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure about this. Splitting the list kinda defeats the purpose of making it a list in the first place, and it makes the actual names harder to locate, in my opinion. Feel free to have a go, though. Circeus 10:35, 24 May 2007 (UTC)


Some pictures that might be worth putting in a gallery Hardyplants 04:52, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Sweeping changes[edit]

I reverted MPF's sweeping changes because a large number of issues were created or worsened by them, and the changes are so complex that I can hardly tell which, if any, material was added.

  • The structure has issues: neither the recommended layout nor any plant FA place the "Distribution" section first
  • That section (dist.) and the intro were so thoroughly gutted that this alone would prevent the article from becoming a FA in this state (I know I would oppose)
  • I thoroughly disagree with MPF's assessment of the PD status of Image:Vthapsus sheet.JPG, but I just don't want to get into a complicated copyrights argument.
  • The content notes order was broken.
  • The wholesale erasure of a well attested American English common name is verging on the pointy, especially seeing as MPF is perfectly aware of the controversy some of his similar edits have generated, not to mention that a number of my sources, including European ones, prominently have "Common mullein" in their title.
    • The switch to British English when the topic has no "strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation" is not any better
  • I don't think the way the information in "Cultivation and naturalisation" was done works very well. the part of it before "Agricultural impacts and control" is a mash of stuff from "distribution and naturalisation" and the original introduction.

Circeus 16:16, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, but I find your revertion very objectionable. By all means rejig the paragraphs, but the article before my edit had a number of serious problems; it was almost entirely concerned with a US- or North American- POV wholly inappropriate to a European species. The MOS is very clear on choice of spellings; as a British/European species, like a British place or a British author, it should be in British English; that takes clear priority over first authorship – "If all else fails, consider following the spelling style preferred by the first major contributor" (my italics); first authorship is something to be followed as a last resort after determining national relevance, not a first resort. It is a British native species – obvious "strong ties" – not a US native species; American usage and spellings are clearly secondary. I find it very objectionable to be ordered to use an American re-naming of my native species instead of the standard name agreed in its native region, and to have to read about it in American spellings, merely to satisfy American cultural imperialism (why must the natives be forced to use the American name for their own native species?). Additionally, of removing the name in places, the whole page was tiresomely repetitive with superfluous re-stating the name every sentence or two, and with circumlocutions like 'of the species', where a simple 'it' makes for much easier reading.
As to paragraph ordering, the natural ecology and introduced/invasive information were badly mixed together, and need to be separated; much of my editing was toward doing this, to help readers understand the species better. Again: by all means rejig the information by moving the distribution below the description, but don't just revert blindly. - MPF 18:05, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
The photo of the herbarium sheet is very clearly marked as copyright on the source page, where it also states that the photograph is 'reproduced by kind permission' of the copyright holder, the Linnaean Society. A photograph of a herbarium specimen is not the same as a photograph of a painting. - MPF 18:05, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
For European species British spelling is better. As a non-native: also consider that English as a second language is taught in European schools with the British spelling. I'm Italian, V. thapsus is also common here, so this article is potentially interesting for me. And I prefer seeing colour and centre, as this is the spelling I have leant with much effort. Of course, if I read about Trillium, I expect American English. Aelwyn 18:47, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't care whether the article uses any, I do care that the name is simply erased from the article entirely and treated as if it never existed. And I'm a French-speaking Quebecer myself, so I could be less bothered by this if it didn't disregard existing guidelines ("All known current English common names for a taxon should be listed in the plant article."). Circeus 18:54, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

It is a British native species – obvious "strong ties" – not a US native species; American usage and spellings are clearly secondary.

No, it is a European, African, and Asian species, which happens to occur in the U.K. and is also widely naturalized and well-known in North America. The U.K. does not in any way "own" this species, or any article about it, or even any article about any species that is native to the U.K. Sorry, MPF, but you are not the final arbiter of the common name for any species that happens to grow somewhere in the U.K.

I find it very objectionable to be ordered to use an American re-naming of my native species instead of the standard name agreed in its native region, and to have to read about it in American spellings, merely to satisfy American cultural imperialism (why must the natives be forced to use the American name for their own native species?).

MPF's continued accusations of "American cultural imperialism"--in this article and in previous ones--are so counterproductive, so unfair, and so insulting to all Wikipedia editors from the USA (although ironically, in this case Circeus is Canadian) that I don't know where to start except to say that it is inappropriate to inject a UK-centric POV into an article, as he has done so over and over. MPF is not being "ordered" or "forced" to use any particular name, nor is any other reader of the article: including the various common names is merely reflecting reality.

The MOS is very clear on choice of spellings; as a British/European species, like a British place or a British author, it should be in British English

I'm looking for this text anywhere in the MOS and not finding it; what I did find at Wikipedia:Manual of Style was "it is acceptable to change from American to British spelling if the article concerns a British topic, and vice versa." But MPF is stretching things quite a bit to assert that, because Verbascum thapsus happens to be native to the U.K.--among numerous other areas, and widely naturalized in North America--any article about this species is therefore a British topic and must be written from a British POV. MrDarwin 19:40, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
The accusation of "rabid anti-American POV has so blinded him" is very unfair, and I trust it will be withdrawn WP:NPA. Like Aelwyn, I expect European species to be in British English, and American species to be in American English. Fair's fair. Show respect for the 'natives'. FYI, several articles on American plants which were started in British English, I have changed to American English. As it was, UK native usage had been almost totally excluded, with the official standard name (yes, we have such things here!) being mentioned only as an insignificant afterthought in the 'Common names' section, nearly the last one mentioned, with the American naming given clear and frequent precedence throughout the article, as if the native usage was very much something to be discouraged. - MPF 20:06, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
As for "No, it is a European, African, and Asian species" - British English (and the virtually identical Irish English) is (as Aelwyn has pointed out) the norm throughout Europe; Asia and Africa largely use Commonwealth English, which is also very similar to British English. If you wish to argue for one or two minor changes to reflect Commonwealth English spelling, I'd have no objection to that. - MPF 20:18, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Uh, given the large size of the diffs it is a bit hard for me to tell what was moved, what was deleted, what was re-worded, etc. But based on a quick glance, everyone could calm down a bit. For example, on the name, as far as I can tell, both the MPF and the Circeus versions mention the name "common mullein" in the "Common names" section (we can fight over the wording, although I will mention that the concept of an official common name is controversial). If you guys really insist on making this a fight, we can just say V. thapsus everywhere (which I don't really prefer, but it would be better than getting in stupid arguments about common vs great mullein). I suspect the other issues (paragraph organization, the image with the disputed copyright, etc) are similar, in that we probably can figure out something sensible if we don't get carried away (in either direction), although I didn't look as closely at those. Kingdon 19:58, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
"we can just say V. thapsus everywhere" Even better, just say "it" - more concise and easier to read! - MPF 20:06, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

This has become a bit absurd MPF. I use British spelling when writing articles about American plants and no American has ever edited my articles based on that fact. The plant occurs in larger numbers in the US due to it being invasive and it is probably better known there than in the UK. At any rate, all of these arguments are unnecessary due to the Manual of Style stating clearly that once an article is written in one form of the English language it is best left that way to avoid daft disputes like this one. The opening paragraph should list both common names so that it can be clear to both Europeans and Americans what it is that is being discussed. Removing the information about its invasiveness in the opener is practically censorship. Put your nationalism aside and consider that information useful to everyone is preferable to information that you approve of. Djlayton4 | talk | contribs 20:45, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Manual of Style stat[es] clearly that once an article is written in one form of the English language it is best left that way
Actually the MoS says that "[i]f an article has evolved using predominantly one variety, the whole article should conform to that variety, unless there are reasons for changing it on the basis of strong national ties to the topic." In this case, MPF is indeed the only asserting any "strong ties" between Common/Great/WHATEVER Mullein and the UK. Circeus 20:52, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Beg your pardon. But still, we're not talking about bangers and mash or haggis here. There is clearly no strong tie in this case. There is certainly a connexion, but it's weak at best. In fact, if MPF is going to argue that case, then it would follow that the tie is also equally strong across its range, meaning we would have to list kleinblütige Königskerze, molène Bouillon-blanc, 毛蕊花 etc. with equal value to the English name. The article I contributed to for Ailanthus altissima, for example, lists a Chinese name in the opener since it is endemic there. Another article I added to was American ginseng, which also includes a Chinese name in the first sentence due to its importance in that culture. If I was to follow MPF's example this would have to be removed, which I find absurd. This is a FA- it has been reviewed (by an Australian, I believe) and identified by a non-biased party as one of the best articles on Wikipedia. MPF is going against a community decision and the standards of Wikipedia. Djlayton4 | talk | contribs 21:10, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree, I just felt that the way you presented the spelling/names guideline was slightly misleading. Sorry if I sounded condescending or anything. Circeus 21:27, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree that I presented it incorrectly and I wasn't bothered by your comment. I likewise apologise if I came off upset. To add another comment, British English is not the "norm" in Europe. Countries with good English education programs, such as Germany, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, learn both forms. Living in Germany I have encountered Germans who speak with either American or British accents and use either standard when writing. In Scandinavia I have almost always seen American orthography in use. MPF needs to show that this article is somehow quintessentially British to justify his revisions, not just European. Djlayton4 | talk | contribs 21:33, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
I disagree with User:Djlayton4's "In fact, if MPF is going to argue that case, then it would follow that the tie is also equally strong across its range, meaning we would have to list kleinblütige Königskerze, molène Bouillon-blanc, 毛蕊花 etc. with equal value to the English name" very strongly. It does not follow at all. This is English-language Wikipedia so we're concerned with English language common names, not listing every name under the sun by which the plant is known. That way madness lies! 13:42, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

I've reworded my comments to both tone them down and make more explicit why I object to MPF's edits. This is not the first time this has come up, and each time we go around it again I snap a little more easily--but especially when he raises, as he has done before, "American cultural imperialism". Does MPF not realize how insulting this is? And does MPF not realize that it works the other way, too? MPF is taking a very narrow, if somewhat vaguely worded, line from the Manual of Style page--"An article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation uses the appropriate variety of English for that nation"--and defining it so broadly as to (1) attempt to claim UK "ownership" over articles on any species native there, regardless of where else or how widely they may be native, naturalized, cultivated, generally known, or economically important; (2) extend this "ownership" to any species that are native to Europe as a whole; (2) attempt to enforce usage of a single common name--that used in the UK--for such particular species; (3) actively suppress common names that are used elsewhere. In this particular case, it's debatable whether Verbascum thapsus has "stronger ties" to the UK than to North America, given how widely naturalized and well-known it is on the latter continent. My own policy is that articles should be informative, factual, and reflect reality. In most cases it's most accurate to say "Species X is commonly know as 'A' (primarily in the UK) or as 'B' (primarily in North America)", rather than attempt to enforce one particular name as the one correct name, to be used in all English-speaking countries. MrDarwin 21:57, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

All the data should be added, in any case (i.e. also the American name). If I had to choose, I'd say British spelling would be a bit better for native European plants, as it is the standard in Europe, but this is quite pointless. Cultural colonialism is some strong accusation and this is probably not the case. What we needn't are edit wars. Aelwyn 22:43, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
It seems to me that User:MrDarwin is missing a major point here: In this particular case, it's debatable whether Verbascum thapsus has "stronger ties" to the UK than to North America, given how widely naturalized and well-known it is on the latter continent.. The fact that the plant is native to the UK with a history of millennia, and introduced to the US with a history of a few hundred years gives V. thapsus far stronger ties to the UK, surely? Or is it the usual US view of 'might is right' - we've got more than you so we're more important? 13:42, 7 September 2007 (UTC)


I still feel the structure changes are woefully inappropriate, but I'm willing to compromise. This version has the original structure that was promoted, but uses Great Mullein throughout most of the article (except references and such), and takes into account MPF's changes to the taxobox, as well as putting "agricultural impact" as a first-level header (even though I'm not too happy with leaving "life cycle" as lone subsection of "ecological aspects"). I left it in American English mostly because I would probably miss something if I tried converting the spelling myself. Circeus 22:58, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

If I may suggest a semi-compromise: since the article title is Verbascum thapsus, then this is the name that should be used throughout the article, rather than using one or another common name. At the same time, all of the more frequently encountered common names--in whatever country--should be mentioned early on. MrDarwin 00:04, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

Well, it's a little better now, but I'd like to see the following of my other various changes restored:

  • Intro: (1) move "However, it hosts many insects, such as the tarnished plant bug, that can be harmful to other plants" further down page; seems excessive detail for the intro.
  • Description: (1) move the two pics to left align; with right align the text is broken (in my browser at least); (2) "nearly an inch (2.5 cm) across" change to 2-2.5 cm (nearly an inch) to fit rest of page; (3) leaf size "ranging in size up to 14 cm across and 50 cm long" change to ranging in size up to 50 cm long and 14 cm across (length then width is normal); (4) flowers: add 'The' at start of sentence; "the latter bright yellow and an inch or less wide" change to more precise "bright yellow and 12–35 mm wide" (ref: Huxley/); (5) restore "The chromosome number is 2n = 36" (ref NWeurope/).
  • Distribution and naturalization: Split this into two separate paragraphs, Distribution, covering the native range, and Naturalisation, which could/should be merged into the Cultivation / Agricultural impacts and control section; then move Distribution higher up the page, to just above Taxonomy (since understanding the taxonomy depends on reading the distribution first).
  • Taxonomy and nomenclature: (1) "European plants exhibit much more phenotypical variation than the American ones,ref BoCW which has lead to the plant acquiring many synonyms over the years" - a better wording: "Wild plants exhibit considerable phenotypical variation,ref BoCW which has lead to the plant acquiring many synonyms over the years. Naturalised American populations show much lower variation,ref BoCW". (2) Additional from this: the low American variation, presumably due to a narrow founder population, is reflected in the species descriptions in the source refs; therefore, more effort should be made to write our species description from native region sources to reflect the greater variation found there. I think too much of the page relies on the Remaily and Pitcairn refs. I did a bit of this, but more should be checked. (3) Remove the copyvio herbarium sheet pic. Yes, this is a shame, as it does enhance the page, but we really must respect the Linnaean Society's copyright on the photograph. I doubt that it could even be uploaded on en:wiki as a 'fair use' pic, as that only applies in US law, not UK law (which applies to the pic in question).
  • Common names: Please restore official native usage, and the refs I added there, to first place, instead of near-last. I'd also suggest (which I'd not done before) moving the American usage above the whimsical names (also see further below). To Djlayton4's point on adding other European, etc., names; I can see a point for it (and some other articles do), though equally these can be found by using the interwiki links (I have seen some editors remove foreign names from articles for this reason).
  • Ecological aspects: (1) Simplify title to Ecology. Restrict this section to its natural ecology in the wild, remove the details of where it is a listed invasive, and what eats the seeds in North America, etc., down to the Agric control section (where it is more relevant). (2; Life cycle) "A given flower is open only for a single day, they bloom before dawn and close in the afternoon" restore clearer wording: "A given flower is open only for a single day, opening before dawn and closing in the afternoon".
  • Throughout - please restore all my grammar corrections: (1) (particularly in common names section) the commas and fullstops are not part of the names, so must be outside the quotes: "Hig candlewick", "Bullicks lungwort", "Adams-rod", "Feltwort", "Hare's-beard". They are not "Hig candlewickcomma" "Bullicks lungwortcomma" "Adams-rodcomma" "Feltwortcomma" etc!; (2) make more use of the indefinite article in the page; it is not necessary to repeat either the english or the scientific names every sentence or two, once every section is enough; (3) replace m-dashes (horrible things which should only be used in exceptional cases!) with commas or semi-colons; (4) zap circumlocutions like "of the species" - they just increase the kilobytage, not the content. - MPF 23:41, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

PS to US readers - have an enjoyable 4th July! - MPF 23:41, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

  • OF COURSE the lead repeats stuff that is mentioned in the article! What part of "The lead should be capable of standing alone as a concise overview of the article" (Wikipedia:Lead seaction) can't you read? Circeus 00:01, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
I think most of MPF's recommendations are good ones, although I see no reason to stress "official native usage"--"native" meaning "UK"--as Wikipedia is a worldwide resource for English speakers in all countries, not a UK publication. (BTW question for MPF: who is the ruling authority on which common names are "official" in the UK? And what ruling authority extends these "official" names to all of Europe?) MrDarwin 13:50, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Something has to come first, and I think it is reasonable to put names used in the species' native range ahead of those only used for cultivated/naturalised, and particularly so where the name may have official or legal status (if for example a plant is cited in a court case). The ruling authority here is the Botanical Society of the British Isles; their list is downloadable from their website. Extension to Europe is through Britain's membership of the EU, where each country supplies a name in its own language, so each species has a name in each EU language (and also to non-EU countries in other supranational organisations or treaties for e.g. conservation monitoring). I suspect the reasoning behind it all is acceptance of the sad fact that far too many people appear unable to cope with scientific names, so some form of vernacular name standardisation is needed to allow successful communication - exactly the same reason as why birds also have standard names. - MPF 15:38, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
You have to understand that there are NO SUCH THING as "official common name." There are standardized lists of names used by authority, but the only plant that have anything close to "official common names" are cultivars and such plants with registered names. Circeus 19:04, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
That is your regional (I presume North American?) point of view. Others can differ. However, if it makes a satisfactory compromise, I've no objection to changing to "standard common name" - MPF 21:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Regarding punctuation being inside or outside quotation marks, that's a purely typographical issue and I've seen it handled both ways in various publications; I don't know if Wikipedia has any consistency or consensus on which way to go, and never really thought about it before. MrDarwin 13:50, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Outside, unless the punctuation is part of the quotation, is wiki standard, it's in the MOS - MPF 15:38, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately the issues raised here are going to continue to come up, over and over, especially with regard to weed species. It's debatable whether a plant that's a fairly well-behaved native (and perhaps an uncommon or little-known one at that) in Europe, but a well-known and/or pernicious and economically important introduced weed in North America, has "stronger ties" to one or the other continent and thus should be written about from that continent's POV. Neither plants nor their names are constrained by political boundaries. MrDarwin 13:50, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
I can see there may perhaps be a case for that with e.g. Centaurea diffusa or Rosa laevigata [w.r.t. Asia], but that doesn't apply here, as Verbascum thapsus is a well-known, common species here. But I still do very strongly feel that a page about a plant species should first and foremost document its natural status, as opposed to the results of human interference with it. - MPF 15:38, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
MPF, please re-read Wikipedia:Naming conventions (flora) and tell me how you can justify that.Circeus 19:04, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
It isn't covered in that, which is only about page titles. - MPF 21:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
In response to MPF's comment above about "American re-naming", I'd like to point out that many North American common names for plants, but in particular those for species imported from the British Isles, were brought from the British Isles several centuries ago by English-speaking colonists and immigrants directly from England, Scotland, and Ireland. MPF is forgetting that many species have been known under a variety of names (the whole point for attempting to enforce "official" or "standard" common names in the first place) and in fact many common names now widely used in North America, like Mountain ash, were originally in use (and to a certain extent still are, despite the "official" names) in the U.K. I don't know if this is the case for Verbascum thapsus but in fact "common mullein" as a common name makes perfect sense in North America for two reasons: first, it truly is the far more common of only 2 Verbascum species, both introduced, that are encountered with any regularity in the wild here (moth mullein being the other); second, "great" is a rather archaic word for "large" or "tall" and is rarely used in that context anymore, at least in North America. MrDarwin 14:20, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

I can't agree with your opinion that information about an organism in its native habitat is somehow more important than when it's introduced somewhere. Cane toads are associated with Australia (the vast majority don't know they are from South America), Kudzu is associated with the American south (my Japanese friends have usually never heard of it), so that argument is a poor one unless the plant has strong cultural ties. A flowering cherry tree is native and strongly tied to Japan, Edelweiss with Germany, the Scottish thistle with Scotland, etc., but V. thapsus has no strong ties to the UK or any other country for that matter. It's a weedy plant all across its native and introduced range. There is absolutely no reason why we should even be discussing this. Djlayton4 | talk | contribs 16:23, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Not least because (in this case) it allows the rich and powerful (the US) to run roughshod over the rights and wishes of the weak. A general principle of 'native first' at least allows for a way of deciding that is independent of internet domination, and therefore more equitable. I would say this principle should be adhered to, unless there are overwhelming grounds not to do so in individual cases. It is perfectly reasonable to say that all plants have strong ties to their native region. - MPF 17:09, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, MPF, for listing in detail what you'd like to change. My reactions:
  • "However, it hosts many insects, such as the tarnished plant bug, that can be harmful to other plants". I think this needs to stay in the introduction (unless we concisify that paragraph more generally). Other parts of the paragraph, like "very minor problem", change meaning or nuance if we just snip out part of it.
  • Description (pictures, chromosome number, a couple of other things). These changes look OK to me.
  • splitting Distribution and naturalization. Not sure I have a strong reaction pro or con.
  • Moving "European plants" to "Wild plants". The word "wild" is almost never specific enough for text like this. If you mean "in their native range", say so. But this ultimately depends on what our source tested. Did they check Asia and Africa or just Europe? We need to be careful about not going beyond the available evidence.
  • Names. Agree about putting both "great mullein" and "common mullein" above the whimsical/old names. The word "official" needs to be explained or omitted (in most contexts, there isn't such a concept in plant common names).
  • Ecological aspects. As with "Distribution and naturalization", I could see treating this as either combined or separate. Some sources or statements might clearly apply to only the native range or the introduced range, but it wasn't clear to me whether all would.
  • I generally like using "it", and only repeating the name every so often.
  • With respect to m-dashes and circumlocutions, MPF is probably right although I didn't look into this in any depth.
As for "native first", not sure we can adopt that as a general rule (especially with respect to something like Apple or Maize). It seems to be generating more controversy than clarity in this case (in terms of helping us figure out how this article should be written). Kingdon 18:57, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Introduction N Inappropriate, as mentioned, in regard to WP:LEAD.
    The lead is supposed to summarise the article; the sentence strikes me as a highly detailed but very minor individual facet for inclusion in the lead – why that particular insect, and not any of the many others associated with the plant? Can I suggest a new wording: "It also supports many insects, some of which can be harmful to other plants" - MPF 21:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Images
    •  Done Herbarium sheet removed for the time being. I completely fail to see how it can be described as a "3-dimensional work of art."
      Thanks! I didn't say it was "a 3-dimensional work of art" ;-) I just said it is not a 2-dimensional work of art. It is a solid object, not a work of art at all, but a scientific museum specimen; the photo is more comparable to e.g. a photo of a rock in a geological museum - one could not claim that a photo of a rock is in the public domain merely because the rock is 50 million years old, or was collected 250 years ago. Not even if it was a flat rock. With something like this, the copyright dates from the time of photographing and belongs to the photographer, not the collector of the object photographed. - MPF 21:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
    •  Done Moved the first description image.
  • Quotes  Done Changed throughout, except where part of quoted material.
  • Dashes N Conflicting. These were originally (IIRC) introduced because someone objected to the parentheses in the FAC. In one case, they are used to avoid 2-level parentheses.
  • Description  Done all changes enacted, but did not add a source for flower size, since Jepson has numbers already. Placed chromosome number in intro paragraph.
    Thanks for catching those. As I said above, paragraph moves made it almost impossible to spot these small changes.
  • Distribution and naturalization NGreen tickY Done in part Moved the section, but I fail to see any reason to split the information, which would reduce the size of the section too much. Besides, if we just delete "and naturalization" for the header, there is little to gripe about. I tentatively changed "naturalization" for "introduction".
    Good idea on 'introduction'; worth checking if the rest of the US/UK spelling differences can be replaced with wording that doesn't differ (recommended by the MOS): e.g. "The leaves are large up to 50 cm long and lay flat over the ground and are covered with wholly, silver-gray colored hairs" could become "The leaves are large up to 50 cm long and [lay flat over the ground and] are covered with woolly, silvery hairs" (tho' in my experience the leaves don't lie particularly flat, and the article pics don't support it either! - maybe the square-bracketed bit should be cut) - MPF 21:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Taxonomy
    • European vs. wild N Improper The source specifically opposes American and European plants. Besides, what would "wild plants" be compared to?
      How about: "European plants exhibit considerable phenotypical variation,ref BoCW which has lead to the plant acquiring many synonyms over the years. Introduced American populations show much lower variation,ref BoCW". I think that's a bit clearer than the current wording. If what I assume to be the reason (small founder population) is stated in the ref, then that would be well worth including too. - MPF 21:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
    • Description I'm honestly not sure what more can be done. I originally double-checked with Flora Europaea and did not find much issues.
      I'll have a look through what I've got and see if there's any more - MPF 21:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Common names N Modern common names placed first, but as repeatedly pointed above nby myself and others, there is no such thing as "official native [common name] usage", And if there is, there are at least 2 equaly valid competing ones, making the point moot to begin with.
    As above, that is your regional point of view which you can't impose on those who do, but also that I've no objection to changing to "standard common name" if that makes a suitable compromise. I also still object strongly to the non-native name being given pride of place ahead of the native; it implies you are trying to subvert our established standards and get us to change it. - MPF 21:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Ecology  Done Your wording is restored. I had already cut the section, although I'm still iffy with the single subtitle. Does the section works equally well with that header removed?
  • Wordings Green tickY done? There was exactly one (1!) use of "of teh species." I replaced a few other uses of "species," but this sort of copyediting is not easy for me to do, since I've pored over this article somany times.

Circeus 20:00, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

  • Also thinking about bits like (in Life cycle) "The seeds of V. thapsus maintain ...", simplify to "The seeds maintain ..." – we already know that is what is being discussed without needing to repeat it! - MPF 21:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Image copyright[edit]

I have to agree with MPF on the photograph of the herbarium sheet: photographs can be copyrighted, and in this case it appears that it has been. The website that the image was taken from has a clear statement of copyright on the page with the image; moreover see their terms of use where it states clearly and explicitly:

NHM or its licensors or contributors own the copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material on the Site. You may not copy, reproduce, republish, download, post, broadcast, transmit, adapt or otherwise use any material on the Site other than for your own personal non-commercial use.

That seems pretty clear to me. Finally, under the image itself is the statement "Image reproduced by kind permission of The Linnean Society of London", suggesting that it came from a third party who probably owns the copyright and was used with permission. In a nutshell, if there is any question of copyright ownership or violation, in lieu of explicit permission an image should not be uploaded to Wikipedia.

I have to question what this image provides to the article in the first place; it's not essential to any information provided, but if it were, it could be listed under "external links". MrDarwin 13:32, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

I disagree. But rather than explain myself here as well, can we central discussion at the Commons talk page please? Hesperian 14:32, 10 July 2007 (UTC)


I made a few v. minor tweaks to the article - v good read, on the whole. There seems to be a tendency to assume that plants and readers (?) are on the N American continent though, from the gerneralised phrasing. I've tried to add country/continent-specific additions for clarification. 13:17, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Ooh,I've just read the above talk threads. I seem to have stuck my oar into a can of worms, to mix my metaphors! My point was that, as a reader coming to the page for the first time, it read vey much that it had been written by N Americans who were concerned with the 'weed' aspect of the plant - witness the refs to herbicide controls etc - and seemed 'out of balance' because of that. I'm going to stick a few comments in above too. 13:28, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
I've reverted 2 additions of "North America" because those paragraphs were definitely not intended to be restricted. The other edits were fine, thanks. Circeus 13:30, 7 September 2007 (UTC)


There are many, many ways of pronouncing latin and none is actually more correct than the others. I'm Italian and Verbascum thapsus here sounds like /vɛr'baskum 'tapsus/. So, please, avoid adding pronunciation of Latin names unless they have become 'naturalised' in the English language (i.e. they can be found in a common English dictionary, such as chrysanthemum, dahlia). Aelwyn (talk) 10:11, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Who cares what it sounds like in Italian? No one would come here looking for the Italian pronunciation, and anyway Italian orthography is almost phonetic, so it's not an issue. And the point of pronunciation guides is to help people who don't know how to pronounce a word, not those who do. /vɝˈbæskəm ˈθæpsəs/ is the normal English literary pronunciation. Yes, some people want to sound more Latin, but Latin orthography is also almost phonetic, so they don't need pronunciation guides. Well, this name is easy, so it doesn't matter. kwami (talk) 11:35, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
No, sorry, it's not that easy. Latin is and has been pronounced in many different ways also among English speakers (e.g. Oxford style). Aelwyn (talk) 16:30, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, if it's pronounced as Latin. Not if it's pronounced as English. The OED, for example, doesn't have multiple English pronunciations for most Latinate names. kwami (talk) 20:23, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Of course, but I doubt that Verbascum thapsus is listed on the OED, unlike the aforementioned dahlia and chrysanthemum, for which I support adding pronunciation notes. Anyway, if you feel that it does make sense also in this case, I think we could ask for an official policy at ProjectPlants. Bye! Aelwyn (talk) 21:38, 15 January 2008 (UTC)


"For obvious reasons, the plant, unlike other species of the genus, is not often cultivated."

What are the actual reasons?

WriterHound (talk) 18:12, 15 February 2009 (UTC)

It is cultivated sometimes, but not often, because it is not showy like a number of other species, and like many other species of Verbascum it has a lot of seeds that produce large carpet covering "weedy" displays the year after they blooming. Hardyplants (talk) 18:17, 15 February 2009 (UTC)
Because if cultivated, it is very difficult to get rid of. Circeus (talk) 20:38, 15 February 2009 (UTC)


Nice article,good work I wish all the herb entries were this good! I am not a botanist, but how do:- Verbascum macrurum,Verbascum olympicum Boiss,Verbascum densiflorum,Verbascum lasianthum Boiss. ex Bentham,Verbascum cilicicum Boiss., V. lasianthum Boiss. ex Bentham, V pterocalycinum var. mutense Hub.-Mor., and V. salviifolium Boiss, Verbascum pterocalycinum var. mutense Hub.-Mor., Verbascum wiedemannianum, Verbascum mallophorum and Verbascum antiochium Boiss., Fit into the picture here? Michael Bailes — Preceding unsigned comment added by Michael Bailes (talkcontribs) 03:46, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm not clear what the question is intended to mean. As formulated, I have no idea what anyone could answer other than "they are also mullein species". Circéus (talk) 04:09, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Flora of Spain[edit]

Help:Category says that "Categories help readers to find, and navigate around, a subject area, to see pages sorted by title, and to thus find article relationships." Including the category Flora of Spain (I care about the flora of Spain; my argument is extensible to anyone who cares about the flora of other countries) aids in this goal. It is by no means "unnecessary." 0nlyth3truth (talk) 20:24, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

And if you want a source that specifically claims this plant is native to Spain, here you go: "Range: Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to Spain, temperate Asia to China." 0nlyth3truth (talk) 20:28, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
In this case, that category is covered by category:flora of Europe. If we tag widespread plant for every single country we get a category nightmare. Circéus (talk) 22:59, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
The category of Flora of Spain is not "covered" by the category of Flora of Europe. The purpose of the categories is not to add to the content of the article, but to make the article more accessible by adding it to the category pages. I was looking for the name of this plant I new about, and searched for it under the category of Flora of Spain, and it wasn't there. I eventually found it, and put the link in the category for the very purpose of other people who might have performed the same search as me. The inclusion of the category incontrovertibly improves wikipedia, and I will fight it. Please do not WP:OWN this article, and let's be civil and not take it to WP:3RR. 0nlyth3truth (talk) 23:03, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Hmm, Spain is certainly in Europe. This is a widely-distributed species, and it's hard to see the point of adding Flora of Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and all the rest, when Europe does indeed say what needs to be said. It won't do, and here's why: I agree with Circéus that there are very many possible location categories for very many plants (and other species), and with the implication that the task of categorisation if we were to agree that every instance of any species touching any geographic region would have a category would lead to silly results. For if regions can be the size of the smallest country, why stop at Spain? What about Flora of Castile, Aragon, Catalonia? How about the Floras of the provinces of Huelva, Sevilla, Almeria, Murcia? And what about the Floras of Spanish Upland Acid Grasslands and Spanish Upland Calcareous Grasslands? Alarm bells should be ringing, warning lamps flashing red. Chiswick Chap (talk) 17:08, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

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Taproot length[edit]

The article states:

The plant produces a shallow taproot.

which is sourced to this site

While, this site states:

The plant has a deep taproot along with a fiberous root system.

Sounds contradictory. Can someone sort it out?--S Philbrick(Talk) 01:10, 6 April 2017 (UTC)