Winter Plant ID: Common Mullein

Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a widespread medicinal plant that is easy to recognize, even in November.  As a biennial, Common Mullein can be found in two forms on the winter landscape.  First, as overwintering plants with above-ground basal rosettes of fuzzy, whitened leaves.

Photo of Common Mullein rosette

And second, as conspicuous, standing stalks of plants that completed their life cycle in the previous green season.  These stalks are often loaded with yet-to-be-dropped seeds, which in addition to being food for various birds, store the potential for future generations of plants.

Photo of Common Mullein stalk

Can you find both overwintering rosettes and dried stalks of Common Mullein near you?  Look for both along roadsides, on eroded banks, in old fields, and in untended urban lots.

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