Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Habit and Habitat: Mullein is a familiar tall, weedy biennial that grows from 3 to7 feet in height, belonging to the figwort family, or Scrophulariaceae. Its leaves are covered with a hairy down. Leaves are large and oblong from 2 to 12 inches in length. The flowers are yellow with five petals. Buds are densely packed along a thick terminal spike, but bloom only a few at a time. In the first year of growth, a large rosette of downy leaves grows close to the ground. During the second year of growth, the stalk emerges and the plants begin a bloom that starts in June and lasts through September. Toward the end of the blooming season, the entire plant turns a deep tobacco brown and goes to seed. .Mullein is a prolific self-seeder, producing scores of seeds that are capable of germinating even after decades of dormancy in the soil. Just one Mullein plant can disperse 100,000-180,000 seeds that may remain viable for more than 100 years. Mullein favors old fields, rocky or gravelly banks, wastelands, roadsides, embankments, pastures, and meadows. It grows well in poor, sandy soil. It is easy to transplant the first year rosette and place it where you would like to enjoy its beauty in your garden. It requires full sun. Mullein also attracts a wide variety of pollinators, including bees, flies, and butterflies.