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Scientific NamesMullein

Verbascum thapsus L.


Figwort family


Common Names

Aaron’s rod  

Blanket leaf  

Bullock’s lungwort  


Cow’s lungwort  

Flannel dock  

Flannel flower  


Great mullein  

Hare’s beard  


Jacob’s staff  

Mullein dock  

Old man’s flannel  

Pig taper  

Shepherd’s club  

Velvet dock  

Velvet leaf  

Velvet plant  

Verbascum flowers  

White mullein  

Woollen blanket herb


Parts Usually Used 

Leaves, flowers, root

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Mullein is a tall biennial plant; the tall, stout, simple or branched stem bears alternate, thick, felt-like, light green leaves, whose stems are winged by decurrent bases and are woolly with many star-shaped hairs and their bases run down the stem. There is also a basal rosette of larger, obovate-lanceolate or -oblong leaves. Yellow, sessile flowers grow in cylindrical spikes, 1 to 3 inches long, from June to September. The flower stalk does not develop until the second year. Fruits are woolly capsules. Other varieties: Common mullein (V. thapsiforme); Orange mullein (V. phlomoides); Black mullein (V. nigrum).

Medicinal Properties

Diuretic, expectorant, analgesic, tonic, anodyne, antispasmodic, demulcent, vulnerary, astringent, emollient, pectoral, sedative

Biochemical Information

Iron, potassium, sulfur, aucubin, choline, hesperidin, mucilage, traces of essential oil, magnesium, PABA, saponins, verbaside, vitamins B2, B5, B12, and D.

Legends, Myths and Stories

According to Agrippa, a general and minister under Caesar Augustus, mullein leaves, because of their fragrance, had an overpowering effect on demons. More mundanely, the plant was also used by the Greeks and the Romans to make torches or lampwicks by dipping its dried flower-stalks in tallow. The large stalks were oiled and used for funeral torches in olden times. In the Middle Ages, people deprecatingly called the mullein “hag taper”, because witches used it in their incantations and as an important ingredient in their brews and love potions. At the time of Charlemagne mullein was misused for catching fish in “forbidden” waters. Boiling down a large quantity of mullein plants in water and pouring the decoction into fish ponds, the saponins in the mullein will reduce the surface tension of the water to such an extent that the water will get into the gills of the fish, which then drown in their own “element”. Dioscorides used the herb for scorpion stings, eye complaints, toothache, tonsillitis, and coughs. The Native Americans used mullein alone or in tobacco mixtures; also used in medicinal smokes.


For difficult breathing, asthma, glandular swelling, and hay fever. Used as a pain killer, sleep aid, colic, in the right dosage, can control diarrhea or dysentery, or be a laxative. Gets rid of warts. Tea makes good remedy for cough, hoarseness, bronchitis, sinusitis, tuberculosis, bronchial catarrh, mumps, and whooping cough. Used for gastrointestinal problems and piles. For external use on inflammations, arthritis, frostbite, gout, or painful skin conditions, use the tea or a fomentation of the leaves boiled or steeped in hot vinegar and water. For nasal congestion, flu, inflammation of nerve tissue, nerve pain, croup, or other respiratory problems, breathe the vapor from hot water with a handful of flowers added. A poultice of leaves or the powder of dried leaves can be used for difficult wounds, boils, ulcers, and sores. Flowers soaked in olive or mineral oil used as earache drops. Excellent pain killer without being habit forming. Leaves can be boiled in water and the steam can be inhaled to relieve coughs and congestion. The leaves are smoked, alone or with coltsfoot and yerba santa, to soothe the throat and as a substitute for tobacco. The seed is a narcotic fish poison.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease.