Stem. - Tall and stout, from three to five feet high. Leaves. - Oblong, woolly. Flowers. - In a long dense spike. Calyx. - Five-parted. Corolla. - Yellow, with five slightly unequal rounded lobes. Stamens. - Ten, the three upper with white wool on their filaments. Pistil. - One.
The common mullein is a native of the island of Thapsos, from which it takes its specific name. It was probably brought to this country from Europe by the early colonists, notwithstanding the title of "American velvet plant," which it is rumored to bear in England. The Romans called it "candelaria," from their custom of dipping the long dried stalk in suet and using it as a funeral torch, and the Greeks utilized the leaves for lamp-wicks. In more modern times they have served as a remedy for the pulmonary complaints of men and beasts alike, "mullein tea" being greatly esteemed by country people. Its especial efficacy with cattle has earned the plant its name of "bullocks' lungwort." A low rosette of woolly leaves is all that can be seen of the mullein during its first year, the yellow blossoms on their long spikes opening sluggishly about the middle of the second summer. It abounds throughout our dry, rolling meadows, and its tall spires are a familiar feature in the summer landscape.
Plate LI. Common Mullein. - V. Thapsus