An Illustrated Guide to ARIZONA WEEDS

The University of Arizona Press



FIGWORT FAMILY-Scrophulariaceae

COMMON MULLEIN-Verbascum thapsus L.

DESCRIPTION-Common mullein is an erect, stout, soft woolly biennial which reproduces by seeds. The entire plant is covered by matted layers of short hairs which are forked and starlike. The large woolly stem, usually unbranched, is 2 to 6 feet high and very leafy. The leaves form a woolly rosette on the ground for the first year, from which the stem arises the second year. The stem leaves are alternate, the basal ones 6 to 18 inches long, with the upper ones gradually becoming smaller. They are crowded on the stem, nearly oblong, the tips roundish, and the upper leaves more pointed. The leaves are stalkless, but the bases are attached to the stem, and continue down it to the next leaf, thus the stem is 4-winged. The margins are smooth or slightly wavy.

The flowers are greenish yellow, stalkless, 5-lobed, and 3/4 to 1 inch across. They are crowded on a long thick spike at the top of the plant, 1 to 3 feet long, and 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches thick, sometimes with 1 to several short spikes at the base. The woolly eggshaped seedpods, about 1/4 inch in diameter, contain innumerable tiny seeds. These are dark brown, less than 1/25 inch long, rodshaped with 1 end pointed, and a pitted and ridged surface.

DlSTRIBUTlON-Common mullein is a naturalized weed from Europe, growing in dry disturbed soil in waste places, along roadsides, railroad embankments, old dwellings, or fields. On the pinyon, juniper, and ponderosa pine ranges it is a conspicuous weed along sheep driveways, old bedgrounds, and corrals, and is of no value as forage. Widespread in northern and central Arizona from Apache to Mohave counties and abundant in many areas, southward to the Chiricahua Mountains in Cochise County; 4,500 to 8,000 feet elevation; flowering June to October.

Copyright (c) 1972 The Arizona Board of Regents

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