TWIGGY MULLEIN

LARGE-FLOWERED MULLEIN

Verbascum virgatum

Figwort Family [Scrophulariaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8yellow
inner
inner8purple
inner
inner8white
inner
inner8orange
morph
morph8hemizygo
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8angular
stem
stem8ribbed
rarity
rarityZuncommon

5th Sept 2013, shingle beach, Rye Harbour, Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
This specimen at Rye Harbour is about normal height for Twiggy Mullein, 1m.


5th Sept 2013, shingle beach, Rye Harbour, Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Upper 3 stamens are shorter than lower two.


5th Sept 2013, shingle beach, Rye Harbour, Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson


5th Sept 2013, shingle beach, Rye Harbour, Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Table-tennis-bat shaped anthers, with pollen around the edge.


5th Sept 2013, shingle beach, Rye Harbour, Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Lower stamens of Twiggy Mullein have purple hairs only on the lower section whilst the shorter upper 3 stamens are covered in purple hairs all the way up, a distinguishing characteristic of Twiggy Mullein.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Tall and 'twiggy', living up to its name, and scarcely branched. The books say up to 1m high, but this specimen, growing near shade, is about 1.7m high.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The flower stem (pedicel) are mostly shorter than the calyx (sepal tube) unlike the otherwise similar Moth Mullein where they are much longer.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The calyx of the flowers. All parts of the plant are usually covered in stalked glands, aka glandular hairs (with a small bobble at the tip - the gland which secretes a sticky viscous fluid making the plant sticky to the touch).


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Nominally, Mulleins have 5 petals, but this flower has what appear to be 6.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
As does this flower. The inner consists of a mass of purple and (fewer) white hairs. the rear of the petal is also flushed with an irregularly-shaped reddish blotch.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Has but a single style and discoidal sigma (at the bottom of the flower) and 5 stamens. As in many Mulleins, the stamens are not equal, and in Twiggy Mullein are grouped into 3 short upper ones and two lower longer ones.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The 5 stamens can be found here. Your Author does not know why the stamens on the Ellesmere Port plant appear very different to those on the Rye Harbour specimen, but assumes they are in differing stages of development - or that they are in fact sterile which would indicate that it is a hybrid between two Mulleins.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The fruits develop first on the lower flowers, in small bunches and still have the style attached.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Calyx, Fruit and stem covered in short glandular hairs (along with some ordinary hairs).


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Stem leaves are alternate and on the lower part of the stem, as well as in a basal rosette at the base. Those on the stem have auricles, which are either fused to the stem, or straddle each side of it. Stem angular or round or square in places.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Summit of plant with flower buds covered in short sticky glandular hairs.


5th Sept 2013, shingle beach, Rye Harbour, Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Short glandular hairs also on petals and on main stem, interspaced with longer some non-glandular hairs.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
On this specimen the lower part of the main stem where the stem leaves reside your Author sees no glandular hairs, but many normal hairs interspersed with a few stellate (branched or star-like) hairs. Perhaps this taller specimen at Ellesmere Port is a hybrid with another species of Mullein?


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
It is a biennial plant; the basal leaves grow in the first year and the stem and flowers in the second year.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Long lanceolate leaves with very pale mid-vein and irregularly crinkled on the edge.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Uppermost leaf has been twisted around by your Author to display the obverse, lower leaves right-way up.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves net-veined with raised areas between the veins.


Not to be semantically confused with either the common name or the specific epithet of : Twiggy Spurge (Euphorbia × pseudovirgata) [a plant with similar name belonging to a differing family]

Easily mistaken for : Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria) but that has much longer flower stalks (petioles) and those flowers are usually only one per node (whereas that are usually more than one flower per node in Twiggy Mullein); and usually with stalked glands (aka glandular hairs) only on the upper parts of the plant (whereas on Twiggy Mullein the glandular hairs are usually spread throughout).

Some similarities to Dark Mullein (Verbascum nigrum) but there the basal leaves are cordate at the base and the upper leaves are stalked (whereas on Twiggy Mullein the upper leaves are decurrent [runs into and is fused onto] on the main stem) and all 5 stamens are fully clothed in purple hairs (whereas in Twiggy Mullein the bottom 2 stamens are only clothed in purple hairs on their lower part).

Hybridizes with :

  • Hoary Mullein (Verbascum pulverulentum) was found in Cambs. in 2011
  • Dark Mullein (Verbascum nigrum) was also found in Cambs. in 2011
  • Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) (aka V. lemaitrei) has occurred as a casual in Warks in 1892 and in Midlothian in 1996.
But from the above it appears that hybrids with Twiggy Mullein are very infrequent, so the specimens at Ellesmere Port are probably not hybrids despite being tall and not least because no other differing species of Mulleins were espied nearby.


  Verbascum virgatum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Scrophulariaceae  

Distribution
 family8Figwort family8Scrophulariaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Verbascum
Verbascum
(Mulleins)

TWIGGY MULLEIN

LARGE-FLOWERED MULLEIN

Verbascum virgatum

Figwort Family [Scrophulariaceae]