Corolla monopetalous, usually 2-lipped and irregular, with 4 or 5 lobes. Stamens 4 or rarely 2, inserted on the tube of the corolla. Ovary 2-celled. Style simple. Ovules numerous. Fruit a many-seeded capsule.

A large family, widely spread over the globe, though most abundant in the temperate regions.

Verbascum L. Mullein

Flowers in simple or compound spiked racemes. Corolla nearly regular, 5-lobed, rotate, yellow, sometimes violet at the throat. Stamens 5, unequal, with bearded filaments. Leaves usually woolly.

Over 100 species native in the Old World, many of them hybridising, which makes their determination rather difficult.

Verbascum Nigrum L. Dark Mullein

Stem 2-3 feet high, lightly clothed with woolly hairs, ending in a long, usually simple raceme. Leaves crenate, nearly glabrous on upper side, slightly woolly beneath; the lower ones cordate-oblong, on long stalks; the upper ones nearly sessile, small and pointed. Flowers numerous, rather small in comparison with some of the genus, yellow, with bright purple hairs on the filaments and purple throat.

Banks, roadsides, and hills. July, August.


Europe, except the Mediterranean region and extreme north; Caucasus, Western Asia.

Verbascum Thapsus L. Great Mullein

This well-known Mullein is the largest and commonest species, though in Switzerland, as elsewhere, it usually occurs singly or in twos and threes, not in colonies. It is 3 or 4 feet high, and the leaves are woolly and decurrent. The flowers are in a dense, woolly terminal-spike often a foot long. Biennial.

Waste places, hills, and roadsides. July, August.


Europe, Caucasus, Altai, Himalaya, and naturalised in America and Algeria.

Verbascum Montanum Schrad

Closely resembles V. Thapsus, of which it is sometimes considered a variety, but the flowers are larger, filaments of all the stamens are woolly, and the leaves not so strongly decurrent.

Hilly woods and waste places, especially in Southern Switzerland. June to August.

Verbascum Chaixii VILL

A perennial species, 2-3 feet high, covered with greyish tomentum. Stems rather slender. Leaves pubescent above, crenate or dentate, the lower ones oval-oblong, contracted into a petiole or truncate at the base; upper leaves almost heart-shaped and sessile. Flowers rather small, yellow, with violet throat.

Woods, chestnut groves, and hills. July, August.


Tessin in Switzerland, Maritime Alps, Pyrenees, Cevennes, Central and Southern Europe, Caucasus, Armenia.

Linaria Hill

Corolla personate, spurred. Stamens 4. Stigma notched or 2-lobed. Capsule of 2 nearly equal cells, dehiscing by pores.

A numerous genus of mostly annual plants, especially abundant in South-western Europe.

Linaria Alpina Miller. (Plate V)

Annual or biennial. Root tapering, fibrous, whole plant glabrous and glaucous. Stem procumbent or ascending at the apex, simple or branched, weak, glabrous like the leaves. Leaves sessile, linear or linear-lanceolate, obtuse, glaucous, entire, in whorls of 3 or 4, or the upper ones alternate. Flowers in short, loose racemes; flower-stalk as long as the calyx. Corolla large, violet, with orange throat. Seeds elliptical, flat, smooth, surrounded by a membranous rim. Very rarely the flowers are yellow.

Debris and moraines in the calcareous Alps and sub-Alps; common, and descending into the valleys in the dry beds of streams. July to September.

It also mounts to a great height on some of the highest peaks, and has been gathered at 3800 metres or 12,460 feet on the Grivola.


Eastern, Central, and Western Alps; Jura, Carpathians, Transylvania, Balkans, Pyrenees, Spain.