Great mullein

Status Non-native, invasive
Best Time to See December
Colour Blue
Habitat Coastal

"Verbascums at sunlight – they glitter and glow,
Like lots of tall candle-sticks set in a row"

- Reginald Arkell, “Great Mullein”


An eyecatching plant, the great mullein’s spires of yellow flowers may reach two metres in height.

How to spot it

The plant’s grey-green, oval leaves are covered in woolly hairs and appear in whorls around its tall stems. The flowers are small, and form dense, yellow clusters around the top of the spike.

Where it grows

In open scrub and hedge banks, on waysides, railway banks and sidings, rough grassy places, waste ground and quarries.

Best time to see

Flowers from June to September

Cultural info

In the Language of Flowers the mullein stands for health and good nature

How's it doing?

Continues to be common throughout the British Isles, except north-west Scotland.

3 things you might not know

  • Some North American Indian tribes used the woolly leaves as lining to insulate their moccasins against the cold – early settlers learnt of this practice and placed the leaves inside their stockings.
  • Its long bare stems were dried and dipped in tallow to make torches and lamp wicks.
  • Roman ladies dyed their hair a golden colour with an infusion of the flowers.