MOTH MULLEIN

Verbascum blattaria

Figwort Family [Scrophulariaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8yellow
inner
inner8yellow
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round
sex
sexZbisexual


Verbascum blattaria var. albiflorum

(Corolla usually yellow rather than white as here)

5th June 2018, Oxfordshire. Photo: © Andrew Finmere
An annual to biennial growing to 1m high, but someone forgot to tell these specimens which may be over 2m high.
[The similarly tall but narrower purple-flowered plant on the right is Purple Toadflax]


5th June 2018, Oxfordshire. Photo: © Andrew Finmere
The flowers on this specimen seem to have but 4 petals rather than the normal 5, but aberrations do occasionally occur. The red object at the top part of the stems are as-yet un-opened flower buds.
The flowers are not in pairs, but are instead single.


5th June 2018, Oxfordshire. Photo: © Andrew Finmere
This plant has the correct number of petals in its flowers, five. The central part of the flower of most Moth Mulleins have a purple splodge.


5th June 2018, Oxfordshire. Photo: © Andrew Finmere
The top lone central anther is stubbier than the other two sets and has a yellow anther which is much smaller.


5th June 2018, Oxfordshire. Photo: © Andrew Finmere
The 5 stamens are in three sets with differing shape, one at top dead centre with a very short filament and small discoidal anther, 2 central ones below the topmost, and two longer filaments shaped a bit like hockey sticks at the bottom.
The two central filaments have hemi-discoidal anthers atop.
The various filaments are covered in white or mauve coloured hairs.


5th June 2018, Oxfordshire. Photo: © Andrew Finmere
The inflorescence of Moth Mullein usually has stalked glands on the inflorescence (as here in the centre of the flower) - but see also the last photo in this set.
The central two of the five anthers are shaped like a slice of orange or lemon, with a white or orange 'peel' on the periphery and a greenish-yellow centre. The topmost filament is shortest and with a much smaller discoidal anther.

A slightly longer purple style is topped by a small green discoidal stigma.



5th June 2018, Oxfordshire. Photo: © Andrew Finmere
The long narrow leaves on the lower stem. They have wavy, crinkly edges.


5th June 2018, Oxfordshire. Photo: © Andrew Finmere
The leaves on the upper stem are stalkless and instead clasp the stem each side. They are also tiothed.


5th June 2018, Oxfordshire. Photo: © Andrew Finmere
In the books it is said that Moth Mullein usually only has stickily-hairy stalked glands on the inflorescence, but here on this specimen only they are also on the stem, and leaves as well as the normal flower stalks and sepal cup.
[The leaves of White Mullein Verbascum lychnitis are similarly stalkless but with clasping auricles each side of the main stem]
[The leaves of Twiggy Mullein Verbascum virgatum (which is very similar to Moth Mullein) are stalked but the stalk is winged each side].


Easily mistaken for : Twiggy Mullein Verbascum virgatum

The flowers open and close over the course of a day, unfolding at dawn and subsiding by noon.

The seed pods contain hundreds of small black seeds which, if kept well, are capable of remaining viable for over 120 years.

A dye can be obtained from Moth Mullein and in suitable mordants will yield a yellow or a green dye.

Hybridizes with : Dark Mullein (Verbascum nigra) to produce Verbascum × intermedium

It is thought to derive its common name Moth Mullein from the stamens resemblance to the antennae of moths. But another source says that it was used as an insect repellant to safeguard clothing from being eaten by moths.

Moth Mullein has been investigated for medicinal use and it was found to have insecticidal properties which killed over half of the mosquito larvae in a study. However, if it only kills half, then the remaining mosquitoes may be immune and they would go on to become the dominant mosquito if ever this plant was used in earnest to control mosquitoes.


  Verbascum blattaria  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Scrophulariaceae  

Distribution
 family8Figwort family8Scrophulariaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Verbascum
Verbascum
(Mulleins)

MOTH MULLEIN

Verbascum blattaria

Figwort Family [Scrophulariaceae]