A large family of herbs with perfect but irregular flowers, usually with two sets of stamens of different lengths. They all have bitter juices and some of them are narcotic-poisonous.
This well known plant is one of the most common sights along roadsides and in dry fields. It is very conspicuous, the more so from the fact that it commonly grows where other plant life is of small stature. Its long stalk rises from 2 to 7 feet above ground; the plant may well be compared to its neighbors as a modern skyscraper surrounded by cottages.
Mullein leaves are very soft, with fine white downy hairs; they have given to the plant a name very often applied, - '"Flannel Plant." The basal tuft of leaves first appears: they are large, ovate and pointed. The ones on the tall stalk are smaller and diminish in size to bracts as they reach the bottom of the long flower spike. From June until September, these flowers open a few at a time and last but a day. The light yellow corolla has five uneven, concaved lobes and five protruding stamens; three of the stamens are fuzzy and tipped with orange anthers, the others are smooth.
Mullein is always associated in my mind with Kingbirds because the tall spires are commonly used as lookout perches. It is very common throughout our range.
A. Common Mullein; Flannel Plant. Verbascum Thapsus. B. Moth Mullein. Verbascum Blattaria.
Moth Mullein (Verbascum Blattaria) (European) has a tall, very slender stalk at the summit of which is a loose raceme. The flowers open two or three at a time; they are large, have five petals, very prominent stamens and orange anthers. The upper leaves are lance-shaped, the lower ones have the margins deeply cut, toothed, and notched. It is common from Me. to Ontario and southwards.
A. Blue Toadflax.
B. Toadflax; Butter-and-Eggs.
This is a very slender and dainty species related to the very common introduced "Butter-and-Eggs. The stem attains heights of from 5 to 30 inches, but is so slender and weak that it is often supported by the surrounding plants. The small linear leaves alternate along the stem and continue in a diminishing size to the ends of the branches, where they act as bracts for the loose raceme of flowers.
The little tubular flowers are violet-blue in color; the corolla is two-lipped, the upper one having two lobes and the lower one three; the latter is pouch-shaped and extends backwards into a very slender spur. Blue Toadflax is commonly found in dry sandy fields throughout the United States and southern Canada.