Mullein: Yellow Lights

Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 in flowers, leaves, plant parts, summer, Unmowed Blog | 0 comments

Cruising along Route 81 in Virginia, and I just had to pull over to take a look at these yellow stalks. I have never seen such gorgeous mullein plants. mullein along highway

Common mullein is an odd wildflower, like a fencepost sticking straight up out of the ground. Little yellow flowers bloom up and down the stalk, each individual flower opening for only one day. At least at home in upstate New York the flowers are little, but here in the sunny south they’re the size of roses.

They’re not a native plant, but not generally invasive. They love dry open ground where nothing else is growing, and can’t compete with grass or shade. Bright yellow sun lovers.

Mullein has a basal rosette of fuzzy leaves, that seem more like fabric than plant material, as if someone cut them out of felt. They’re thick and woolly as socks, in fact they used to be commonly used to line shoes. I can see where if you had a hole in the sole of your shoe, a layer of fuzzy mullein leaves would be quite comfortable.

The yellow flowers glow like torches along the highway. In fact I’ve read that people used to use the long stalks for torches, dipped in paraffin or some inflammable substance. But even without being set alight, they brighten up a dull Interstate.mullein stalk

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