HOARY MULLEIN

Verbascum pulverulentum

Figwort Family [Scrophulariaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZalien
flower
flower8yellow
inner
inner8orange
morph
morph8hemizygo
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round

10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
At least seven specimens are in this photograph, but all may not be immediately apparent.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
A candelabra-branched Mullein, as is the similar Hungarian Mullein (Verbascum speciousum). Up to 1.5m tall.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are yellow, as on most Mulleins (even on Hungarian Mullein (Verbascum lychnitis) - on those specimens in North somerset).


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Has branches on the upper part of the main stem with each branch bearing a spike of flowers.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The branches are densely covered in flowers / flower buds.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Several open flowers and several more as yet un-opened flower buds.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers have five palish-yellow petals and five hairy stamens in the centre.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Has several flowers in each axil of the bract whereas Purple Mullein (Verbascum phoeniceum) (which has purple petals) has only one flower.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers are held close to the stem on short stalks. Five green sepals with longish teeth. Everything that is green is covered in a dense felt of white matted hairs, looking like snow or hoar frost. The petals have shorter white hairs, which are not as dense as those on the green parts of the plant.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The five stamens have white(ish) hairs. Note the fruits (upper centre) with the spent, now brown, style still protruding from the top. Flower is hemizygomorphic; that is, is slightly bi-laterally symmetric: with the upper two petals the shortest, and the single lower petal the longest.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
All five stamens have white hairs (the stamens may curl over and the hairs may drop off with age to reveal orange stamens?). Note the thinner and light-green style which has an (orange) disc at the tip. [Orange Mullein (Verbascum phlomoides) has no disc on the style].


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
All five stamens have a disc attached normal to the axis (on Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) the discs of two of the stamens are attached obliquelyy). The thinner style is lower centre.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
All five stamens have white hairs (but it appears three have more than the other two).


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Flower buds yet to open.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves alternate. Un-like Hungarian Mullein (Verbascum speciousum) the white woolly hairs on the leaves become patchy and tufted as they 'wear' off, the leaves becoming glabrous in the process.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Hairs so dense as to appear like a heavy dousing with talcum powder (magnesium silicate). (Perhaps the hairs just turn to dust as they wear off?). Note the leaves, now almost hairless.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
With all the white hairs worn off (on Hungarian Mullein (Verbascum speciousum) they do not wear off) the leaves are now glabrous.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Basal leaves.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Underside of leaf whiter (with hairs) than top-most surface.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Under-surface of basal leaf showing dense felt-like mat of hairs, which also cover the prominent veins.


10th Aug 2012, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Upper surface of basal leaf - hairs not as dense.


Easily mistaken for : Hungarian Mullein (Verbascum speciousum) or the yellow-flowered variety of White Mullein (Verbascum lychnitis) but that grows only in North Somerset.

Some similarities to : Woad (Isatis tinctoria) which is also branched and with yellow flowers.

Hybridizes with :

  • Twiggy Mullein (Verbascum virgatum) which occurs in one hectad in East Anglia.
  • Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) to produce Verbascum × godronii which occurs in one hectad near the coast north of Norwich.
  • Orange Mullein (Verbascum phlomoides) to produce Verbascum × murbeckii which occurs in one hectad in East Anglia.
  • Dark Mullein (Verbascum nigrum) to produce Verbascum × mixtum which occurs in two hectads in East Anglia.
  • White Mullein (Verbascum lychnitis) to produce Verbascum × regelianum which occurs in two hectads in East Anglia.
but both parents generally need to be present in the area for this to occur with Mulleins, and the hybrids are usually, but not always, sterile and cannot reproduce. Hybrids between the white-flowered White Mullein (Verbascum lychnitis) and any yellow flowered species are yellow. Hybrids between any species with two obliquely positioned anthers and those with straight anthers may not result in flowers with any obliquely positioned anthers.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics: it is undeniably and un-mistakenly a Mullein.

No relation to : Hoary Plantain, Hoary Ragwort, Hoary Rock-rose, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Cress or Hoary Alison [plants with similar names belonging to differing families].

There has been a lengthy discussion on the web forums regarding the identity of the Mulleins now found growing in the upper part of the Lathkill Dale valley, of which there must be over 50 specimens scattered about hither-thither. Some folk have concluded that the specimens are the even rarer Hungarian Mullein (Verbascum speciousum) citing the orange stamens as proof, saying that all the books mention the stamens of Hoary Mullein as being white. But the books say that the stamens are white with woolly hairs, they do not say what colour the stamens are underneath the wool. They just say that the flower is yellow. Why not the stamens too?

Indeed, your Author has carefully considered all of the numerous possibilities, and he concludes that because the leaves are not permanently woolly, but shed the white hairs over time, then these specimens cannot be the rarer Hungarian Mullein (Verbascum speciousum) which holds onto the hairs on its leaves. Hoary Mullein, on the other hand, does shed the hair off its leaves, but what if it also shed the hairs on at least some of its stamens too? If it does, then the Authors' identification is correct; the Mulleins in Lathkill Dale are those of Hoary Mullein, and not of Hungarian Mullein (Verbascum speciousum).

Hoary Mullein is a speciality of East Anglia and often found by the A14 near Bury St. Edmunds. It is fairly rare. It seems to have recently turned up in Lathkill Dale, but the Author surmises that it may have been carried there inadvertently by enthusiastic botanists or as a garden escape.


  Verbascum pulverulentum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Scrophulariaceae  

Distribution
 family8Figwort family8Scrophulariaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Verbascum
Verbascum
(Mulleins)

HOARY MULLEIN

Verbascum pulverulentum

Figwort Family [Scrophulariaceae]