Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

I'm growing a giant mullein plant this year. They usually plant themselves, with the help of the birds who deposit them arbitrarily.  This one is in my community garden herb plot which I tend.  Actually a bird deposited the seed outside of the plot and it's growing out of the stone border.  I could tell early on that it was going to be an extraordinary specimen.  A rule in our garden is to keep weeds out of the paths as well as the perimeter of the plot. Anything growing outside of it is up for grabs by the committee that oversees the annual plant sale.  In order to save it from that fate (mullein doesn't like to be transplanted - plus I wanted it for the herb garden) I set some stones around it to let everyone know that this was to be kept.  Every couple of days when I came to check on the plot the mullein was bigger so I'd adjust the stones to compensate.  It has apparently relished the attention to the point where now there is a big bulge coming out of the plot.  It's quite a spectacle and a source of amusement amongst my fellow gardeners.

Verbascum thapsus is native to Europe, Asia and
North America and is a relative of one of my favorite plants, foxglove.  It can grow in poor soil which is probably why this specimen is so happy growing outside of the plot rather than in the compost rich soil inside.  The flowers are capable of self fertilization (so I'll remember to shake the seed head this coming autumn).  They have a dense mass of thick hairs on either side making them very soft to the touch.  They frequently grow to four or five feet - this one reached seven or eight!

Mullein is a demulcent, meaning that it forms a soothing film over mucous membranes relieving minor pain and inflammation.  It has emollient and astringent properties making it a great herb for dry coughs.  It also has sedative qualities.  A tea can be made of the leaves but be sure to strain the hairs carefully as they irritate the mucous membranes.  The leaves are sometimes smoked to relieve irritation of the respiratory mucous membranes.  Smoking the dried herb can be beneficial for asthma and spasmodic coughs.

I've dried some leaves to prepare for winter tisanes and have tinctured some for sale on Etsy.