Verbascum blattaria L.

Moth Mullein

Verbascum blattaria plant

Family - Scrophulariaceae

Stems - To +1m tall, glabrous below, glandular pubescent in inflorescence, carinate, from large taproot, herbaceous, branching above or simple, erect.

Verbascum blattaria stem

Leaves - Basal leaves in rosette, pinnately lobed, to +17cm long, +/-5cm broad, oblanceolate, sessile, glabrous or with very sparse pubescence below on midrib, often rugose above. Lobes serrate to crenate-serrate or crisped. Cauline leaves alternate, sessile, clasping, biserrate, lanceolate, reduced above, glabrous or with sparse hairs on midrib below. Leaves in inflorescence reduced to bracts.

Verbascum blattaria leavesBasal leaves.

Verbascum blattaria leavesCauline leaves.

Inflorescence - Terminal spikiform indeterminate raceme to +40cm tall, elongating in fruit. Flowers subtended by foliaceous bracts. Bracts and axis densely glandular pubescent. Pedicels to +1cm long in flower, longer in fruit, 1.1mm in diameter, dense glandular pubescent.

Flowers - Corolla zygomorphic, 5-lobed, yellow, to -4cm broad. Lobes rounded, glabrous. Stamens 5, filaments to 9mm long, densely villous, the pubescence wine in color. Anthers 3mm broad, bright orange. Style filiform, glabrous, 1cm long, purple. Ovary superior, densely glandular, subglobose, 2-locular. Placentation axile. Calyx 5-lobed, densely glandular pubescent. Tube to -1mm long. Lobes to 8mm long, -3mm broad, recurved, linear. Fruit a globose capsule to 8mm in diameter, many seeded, glandular pubescent.

Verbascum blattaria calyxCalyx.

Verbascum blattaria flowerFlower.

Flowering - May - September.

Habitat - Pastures, rocky open ground, waste ground, rocky streambanks, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This is an interesting plant. The upper portion of the stems are densely glandular pubescent and the flowers are brilliant and neat to look at. The densely pubescent filaments contrast the yellow of the corolla and make for a striking display. I always wonder why people go to garden centers to buy plants when some of the best plants are growing on the side of the road. This plant is easy to grow from seed and produces huge quantities of it. The globose fruits contain many tiny seeds each.
There is another form of the species, form erubescens Brugger, synonymous with form albiflora (G. Don) House, which has a white corolla, but otherwise is identical. You can find this form in the "White Flowers Leaves Alternate" section of this website. Both forms are common in Missouri except for in the Northwest corner of the state where the plant seems to be absent.

Photographs taken off Hwy 72, Reynolds County, MO., 5-23-03, and off I-85 near Atlanta, GA., 3-20-05.