Great mullein

Great Mullein

©Northeast Wildlife

Great mullein

Scientific name: Verbascum thapsus
Great mullein is an impressive, tall plant of waste ground, roadside verges and gardens. Its candle-like flower spikes rise from rosettes of furry, silver-green leaves.

Species information


Height: up to 2m

Conservation status


When to see

June to August


The yellow, candle-like flower spikes of Great mullein can reach up to 2m in height, making this an impressive plant of dry and grassy ground, including gardens, waste ground and roadside verges. It is a biennial, spending its first year as a rosette of furry leaves, and producing its flowers in its second year, between June and August.

How to identify

The grey-green, oval, leaves of Great mullein are covered in woolly hairs and appear in whorls around the tall stems. The flower spike appears at the top of the stem - the flowers themselves are small, but they form dense, yellow clusters around the spike.



Did you know?

Great mullein is the foodplant of the Mullein moth; an inconspicuous adult, the larvae are yellow- and black-spotted caterpillars that can be found from May to July.

How people can help

Although they might not look especially wildlife-friendly, our roadside verges, railway cuttings and waste grounds can provide valuable habitats for all kinds of plants and animals. The Wildlife Trusts are involved in many projects to make these places as beneficial for wildlife as possible. We have a vision of a Living Landscape: a network of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.