Common Mullein

Verbascum thapsus


Common mullein is a biennial plant that reproduces only by seeds and is a prolific seed producer. The plant begins as a rosette and leaves have a thick hair cover.  It has a woolly stem which is erect, 2-6 feet tall, without branches.  Leaves are opposite, elliptic to ovate.  Overall growth depends on the amount and timing of rainfall.  Produces yellowish flowers in June and July (source).


Rangelands, woodlands, and pastures.

Location in Nebraska

Listed as a county noxious weed in Cheyenne county Nebraska.

Pathway of Introduction and Spread

Common mullein was first introduced into the United States in the mid-1700s by colonies in Virginia and was used as a piscicide, a chemical substance that is poisonous to fish (source).


The taproot of common mullein can access soil moisture from a deeper profile at a much better rate than he roots of pasture grasses, giving it a competitive advantage, especially in dry years.  Low palatability and no feed value to livestock.  Heavy stands can reduce grass production as much as 50%, especially in dry years (source).


Sparse populations can be controlled by mechanical removal using a spade or shovel in late April and early May. Individual plants can be dug out or cut just at the soil surfaces as long as the whole rosette is removed. Herbicides can also be used (source).

Photo Credits: 

Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired),
Steve Dewey, Utah State University,
Theodore Webster, USDA Agricultural Research Service,
Ohio State Weed Lab , The Ohio State University,
George Beck and James Sebastian, Colorado State University,
Carey Minteer, University of Arkansas,