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Purple Mullein

Verbascum phoeniceum

  • Family: Figwort – Scrophulariaceae
  • Growing form: Usually a perennial herb.
  • Height: 30–80 cm (12–32 in.). Stem lower part long-haired, upper part with glandular hairs.
  • Flower: Corolla almost regular, 20–30 mm (0.8–1.2 in.) wide, purple, occasionally white, fused, wheel-shaped, short-tubed, 5-lobed. Calyx 5-lobed. Stamens 5, filaments purple-haired. Pistil a fused carpel. Inflorescence racemose, usually unbranched.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette and alternate on stem. Basal leaves stalked, stem leaves small. Blade elliptic–ovate, with entire or shallowly-toothed margin, bumpy, glabrous on top, hairy underneath.
  • Fruit: Egg-shaped, 6–8 mm (0.24–0.32 in.) long, septicidal capsule.
  • Habitat: Wasteland, yard. Ornamental, occasionally an escape.
  • Flowering time: June–September.

Finland’s wild flora includes a couple of mulleins, in addition to which a handful of more southern species are cultivated in gardens. Of the species that are grown in Finland, purple mullein stands out clearly: its flower varies between shades of lilac and red to white, while other mulleins have yellow flowers. Purple mullein’s varying flower colours mean that it is often regarded as a hybrid, but it is only a very variable species. Species of mullein that are growing close to each other do however cross-breed with each other.

Almost all mulleins are biennial and they die after flowering once. Purple mullein is however usually perennial and can flower several times. Like many of its relatives it seeds easily and can spread beyond the flower bed. In sunny and dry meadows it can form impressive-looking stands.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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