Common name: Mullein
Family: Scrophulariaceae, Figwort
Height x width: 3-6' x 1-2'
Growth rate: moderate
Foliage: alternate, usually in a basal rosette, often soft and sometimes densely wooly
Flowers: often a spike, often yellow but may be red to purple to white depending on species; summer
Hardiness: zones 5 or 6 to 8, depending on species
Soil: most, tolerates poor
Pests and Problems: spider mites
Landscape habit, uses: borders, scattered through meadows, herb, foliage
Other interest: Aaron's rod, thapsus, is an ancient plant with uses going back to Greeks; the erect stems dipped in tallow were used as candles, with the entire inflorescence so treated used as a processional torch; Romans used it as a hair dye and Middle Age peasants used the downy leaves to line footware; seeds were fed to fish to make them sleepy and easier to catch, and seeds have been used as a narcotic for humans; it has been used medicinally to treat bronchial congestion when smoked, as an infusion for mouth and throat inflammation, and as a tincture from dried leaves to treat earache and migraine; native to southern Europe and Asia, depending on species, they have become naturalized in the U.S., especially thapsus which is hardy to zone 3 and often considered a roadside weed
Other culture: easy, tolerates wet and cold soils
Propagation: seeds (often result in variable types), spring root cuttings of desirable types
Those marked * are most common in U.S. commerce.
|blatteria, Moth M.||5-8||4-6'||yellow||green||biennial|
|*chaxii, Nettle-leaved M.||5-8||2-3'||gray-green||gray-green||short-lived perennial|
|*densiflorum||3-6'||5-8||yellow||gray-green||leaf bases run down stem|
|leianthum||7-8||6-8'||yellow||gray-green||wooly below, biennial|
|*olympicum, Olumpic M.||6-8||3-5'||yellow||white||large overall|
|*phoeniceum, Purple M.||6-8||2-4'||purple, white||dark green||flowers early summer|
|thapsus, Aaron's Rod||3-8||4-6'||yellow||white||as for species|
The following are found in U.S. commerce, with those marked * most common.
If the species is not given, these are hybrids.
|*'Album'||chaixii||white, mauve eyes|
|'Arctic Summer'||bombyciferum||yellow||silvery white|
|'Cotswold Queen'||terra-cotta, maroon stamens||3-4'|
|*'Pink Domino'||rosy pink, dark eye||3-4'|
|'Polar Summer':'Arctic Summer'|
|'Royal Highland'||apricot yellow||3'|
|'Silver Candelabra'||bright yellow||4-6', white wooly|
©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.
Return to Perry's
Perennial Pages | HGPO
course | PSS123 course