Verbascum thapsus. N.O. Scrophulariaceae.
Synonym ► Great Mullein, Blanket Herb, or Candle Flower.
Habitat ► Flourishes in sandy and gravelly waste ground, and is sometimes noticed under garden cultivation.
Features ► Reaching a height of four feet, the thick, erect, un-branched stem is
heavily coated with hairs. The large, flannel-like leaves are lanceolate-oblong below, the upper ones becoming decurrent, smaller, and more ovate in shape. Characteristic of the plant, leaves narrow at the base into two wings which pass down the stem, this feature enabling the medicinal Mullein to be distinguished from Verbascum nigrum and various other Mulleins. The flowers, which bloom in July and August, are built of five golden-yellow, rounded petals, and are densely packed on a woolly spike some foot or more in length.
Part used ► Leaves and flowers.
Action ► Demulcent, pectoral and astringent.
A medicine is made by infusing 1 ounce in 1 pint of boiling water, the usual dose being a wineglassful, taken frequently. This is recommended mainly for chest coughs and certain other pulmonary complaints. Mullein has been considered a pile cure for several hundred years, and is still used for this purpose both internally and as a fomentation.
Culpeper preferred the root to the leaves and flowers, and advised it to be taken in wine. He tells us that this “is commended by Dioscorides against lasks and fluxes of the belly.”