This section is from the book "A Manual Of Weeds", by Ada E. Georgia. Also available from Amazon: A Manual Of Weeds.
Introduced. Biennial. Propagates by seeds. Time of bloom: June to September. Seed-time: August to November. Range: Nova Scotia to Minnesota, southward to Florida and Kansas. Habitat: Old fields, pastures, and waste places.
Gray states that the generic name of this plant is corrupted from Barbascum, "the bearded" - certainly most fitting for a plant so densely hairy in all its parts. (Fig. 262.)
Stem two to seven feet tall, stout, erect, simple or with one or two upright branches near the top. Root-leaves tufted, spreading on the ground in a large, thick rosette; oblong, light green, thick, densely woolly with branched and interlacing hairs, tapering to the base, four inches to a foot or more in length, the larger ones with petioles. No grazing animal will touch these felt-like leaves, and hibernating insects find them a safe winter shelter. Upper leaves narrower and more pointed, alternate, their bases often decurrent on the stem to the axils of the leaf below, making the stem four-winged. Flowers sessile on long, dense, cylindrical spikes; calyx with five pointed lobes, very woolly; corolla yellow, with five unequal, rounded lobes, spread flat, open for but a day; five stamens, with white filaments, the three upper ones shorter and bearded, with smaller anthers than those of the longer lower ones. Capsule nearly a quarter-inch high, globular, two-celled, downy, filled with many fine, brown seeds.
Fig. 262. - Common Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus). X 1/8.
Spudding or hoe-cutting of autumn rosettes; pulling or close cutting of flower-stalks before seed development.