Mullein is unmistakable when it is in flower, with its spires of yellow flowers on a spike reaching two or more metres tall. It likes disturbed ground and dry soil, often growing on roadsides.
The flowers, infused in oil, are a remedy for earache and other nerve pain. The leaves and flowers taken as a tea relieve dry irritable coughs. Mullein, so supple and strong itself, has an
affinity for the spine and helps in setting bones.
Description: Biennial plants, growing in their first year as a rosette of downy leaves, and sending up a tall spike with yellow flowers in their second summer.
Habitat: Sides of fields, hedgerows, dry ground.
Species used: Great mullein is the species generally discussed in herbals, but any of the tall, yellow-flowered mulleins can be used, as can white mullein (Verbascum album).
Distribution: Great mullein (V. thapsus) is native to Europe, northern Africa and Asia, and naturalised in parts of North America, Africa and Australia. Common in the British Isles except in the far north and west. Hoary mullein (V. pulverulentum) is local in East Anglia, and dark mullein (V. nigrum) is mostly found in the south.
Related species: There are about 300 species of Verbascum.
Parts used: Leaves and flowers, sometimes the root.