Flowers: large; growing in a long, terminal spike. Calyx: of five sepals. Corolla: wheel-shaped with five unequal, rounded lobes. Stamens: ten; three taller than the others with woolly filaments. Pistil: one. Leaves: alternate; the basal leaves lying flatly in a circle on the ground;' oblong; pale green; velvety to the touch. Stem: erect; flat.
Although in Europe the mullen is called "American velvet plant," we can hardly claim it as indigenous to our country. In fact, as its specific name implies, it is a native of the island of Thapsus. It has visited many lands, and had quite a broad experience in usefulness. The Greeks made lamp wicks of the leaves, and the Romans, after preparingthe dried stalks in suet, burned them as funeral torches, when they were called "can-dalaria." The efficacy of mullen tea for pulmonary diseases is still lauded by the country people, especially when used for beasts. It has also its place among the vanities of vanities, and the village belle knows well that the velvety leaf rubbed against her cheeks will leave a tint like that of a ripened peach.
The plant first blooms in the second year of its growth, and then the blossoms last but a single day. It is credited with having forty common English names.