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Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

The Common Mullein is of the Snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae). Let me set out Audubon's description: "An erect, woolly stem has a tightly packed, spike-like cluster of yellow flowers and white-woolly stem leaves, and rises from a rosette of thick, velvety basal leaves." You will readily spot this tall (two to six feet) single stemmed beauty from June to September, usually in a dry, roadside ditch. The plant is a biennial and is not native to the province; it was introduced. The early colonists and the natives used the thick, velvety leaves to line their stockings and shoes for warmth in the winter. I quote Audubon, again: "A tea made from the leaves was used to treat colds, and the flowers and roots were employed to treat various ailments from earaches to croup. The leaves are sometimes applied to the skin to sooth sunburn and other inflammations."

Mullein
(Picture provided by Patrick Donoghue.)

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Peter Landry

2011