The Great Mullein erects its tall, stiff shafts here and there, like so many floral lighthouses, guarding our dry fields and rocky hillsides, or guiding various insect aeroplanists by the irregular glint of its constantly changing blossoms. The Roman "can-delaria," a torch used in funeral ceremonies, was made from dried Mullein stalks dipped in melted suet. The leaves were formerly used for lamp wicks by the Greeks. The hag-taper, used in witchcraft, was made from this plant. In domestic practice, Mullein tea has been long used by country people for relieving coughs and throat irritations, and the dried leaves are smoked for the same purpose. When soaked in oil, the leaves are used for allaying pain, and inflammations. The soft, hairy leaves are also said to impart a desirable peach-like glow to the complexion of pale cheeks, when rubbed thereon. Children have great fun playing Indian and using the dried stalks as "spears." The usually single, leafy stalk rises from two to seven feet high, from a tufted rosette of leaves. It is round and tough, and is densely covered with whitish, woolly, and branched hairs. The large, thick, velvety, pale green, oblong leaves are sharply pointed, and narrowed at the base. They are obscurely toothed, and prominently ribbed. The basal leaves have broad stems. Those upon the stalk are stemless, narrower, and occur alternately. The light yellow wheel-shaped corolla has five unequal, rounded and spreading lobes. The five protruding orange-tipped stamens are unequal. Three of these are fuzzy or bearded, and shorter than the other two, which are longer and smooth. The pistil is green. The woolly green calyx is five-parted. The flowers are densely crowded in prolonged, round, terminal, club-shaped spikes, and open, two or three at a time, for one day's duration. The leaves of the large rosette are conspicuous long before the wand-like stalk appears. This Mullein is common from Nova Scotia to Minnesota, Florida, Kansas and California, from June to September.
GREAT MULLEIN Verbascum Thapsus.