Department of Natural Resources
woolly mullein Verbascum thapsus
mullein is also known as common mullein, beggar's blanket, flannel
plant, velvet plant and witch's candle. This biennial plant's first year
of growth shows only a basal rosette of fuzzy leaves. The second year
has a basal rosette plus leaves on the flowering stalk. Leaves are large,
fuzzy and clasp the stem. Yellow flowers develop on a clublike flower
stalk. Flowers, about one inch wide, have five yellow petals. Fruits are
five-parted, woody capsules. Woolly mullein may attain a height of two
to six feet.
may be found throughout Illinois. It grows in field edges, wood edges,
prairies and roadsides. Flowers are produced from May through September.
Woolly mullein is a native of Europe. It was brought to the United States
by early European settlers. In ancient Rome, mullein stalks dipped in
tallow were used by Roman soldiers as torches. Roman women used the yellow
dye in the plant to color their hair.
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