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Wavyleaf Mullein (Verbascum sinuatum)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Tribe: Scrophularieae
Genus: Verbascum

See text

The Mulleins (sg. pronounced /ˈmʌlɨn/;[1] genus Verbascum, /vɜrˈbæskəm/[2]) are a genus of about 250 species of flowering plants in the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae). They are native to Europe and Asia, with the highest species diversity in the Mediterranean region.

They are biennial or perennial plants, rarely annuals or subshrubs, growing to 0.5–3 m tall. The plants first form a dense rosette of leaves at ground level, subsequently sending up a tall flowering stem. The leaves are spirally arranged, often densely hairy, though glabrous (hairless) in some species. The flowers have five symmetrical petals; petal colours in different species include yellow (most common), orange, red-brown, purple, blue or white. The fruit is a capsule containing numerous minute seeds.



The entire plant contains coumarin and rotenone, with the highest concentrations of these compounds present in the plant's seeds. The seeds of this plant should not be consumed and can cause internal hemmoraging if ingested. Coumarin is the primary ingredient used in rat poisons. Ingestion of rotenone has been linked as a causative agent of Parkinson's disease.[3]

Selected species

  • Verbascum acaule (Bory & Chaub.) Kuntze
  • Verbascum adeliae Heldr.
  • Verbascum adenanthum Bornm.
  • [[Verbascum .
  • Verbascum barnadesii Vahl
  • Verbascum bithynicum Boiss.
  • Verbascum blattaria L. - Moth mullein
  • Verbascum boerhavii L.
  • Verbascum boissieri (Heldr. & Sart.) Kuntze
  • Verbascum botuliforme Murb.
  • Verbascum bombyciferum Boiss.
  • Verbascum bugulifolium Lam.
  • Verbascum chaixii Vill. - Nettle-leaved mullein
  • Verbascum charidemii Murb.
  • Verbascum chinense (L.) Santapau
  • Verbascum chrysanthum Murb.
  • Verbascum creticum (L.) Cav.
  • Verbascum cylindrocarpum Griseb.
  • Verbascum cyleneum (Boiss. & Heldr. ) Kuntze
  • Verbascum daenzeri (Fauché & Chaub.) Kuntze
  • Verbascum davidoffii Murb.
  • Verbascum decorum Velen.
  • Verbascum delphicum Boiss. & Heldr.
  • Verbascum densiflorum Bertol.
  • Verbascum dentifolium Delile
  • Verbascum dieckianum Borbás & Degen
  • Verbascum dimoniei Velen.
  • Verbascum dingleri Mattf. & Stef.
  • Verbascum dumulosum P.H.Davis
  • Verbascum durmitoreum Rohlena
  • Verbascum epixanthinum Boiss. & Heldr.
  • Verbascum eriophorum Godr.
  • Verbascum euboicum Murb. & Rech.f.
  • Verbascum foetidum Boiss. & Heldr.
  • Verbascum formosum Fisch. ex Schrank
  • Verbascum friedrichsthalianum Kuntze
  • Verbascum georgicum Benth.
  • Verbascum glabratum Friv.
  • Verbascum glandulosum Delile
  • Verbascum gnaphalodes M.Bieb.
  • Verbascum graecum Heldr. & Sart. ex Boiss.
  • Verbascum guicciardii Heldr. ex Boiss.
  • Verbascum halacsyanum Sint. & Bornm. ex Halácsy
  • Verbascum haussknechtii Heldr. ex Hausskn.
  • Verbascum hervieri Degen
  • Verbascum herzogii Bornm.
  • Verbascum humile Janka
  • Verbascum hypoleucum Boiss. & Heldr.
  • Verbascum jankaeanum Pancic
  • Verbascum laciniatum (Poir.) Kuntze
  • Verbascum lagurus Fisch. & C.A.Mey.
  • Verbascum lanatum Schrad.
  • Verbascum lasianthum Boiss. ex Benth.
  • Verbascum leianthum Benth.
  • Verbascum leucophylum Griseb.
  • Verbascum levanticum I.K.Ferguson
  • Verbascum litigiosum Samp.
  • Verbascum longifolium Ten.
  • Verbascum lychnitis L. - White mullein
  • Verbascum macedonicum Kosanin & Murb.
  • Verbascum macrurum Ten.
  • Verbascum malophorum Boiss. & Heldr.
  • Verbascum mucronatum Lam.
  • Verbascum nevadense Boiss.
  • Verbascum nicolai Rohlena
  • Verbascum nigrum L. - Dark mullein
  • Verbascum niveum Ten.
  • Verbascum nobile Velen.
  • Verbascum gypsicola Vural & Aydoğdu
  • Verbascum olympicum Boiss.
  • Verbascum orientale (L.) Al.
  • Verbascum orphanideum Murb.
  • Verbascum ovalifolium Donn ex Sims
  • Verbascum paniculatum Wulf.
  • Verbascum pelium Halácsy
  • Verbascum pentelicum Murb.
  • Verbascum pestalozzae Murb.
  • Verbascum phlomoides L. - Orange mullein
  • Verbascum phoeniceum L. - Purple mullein
  • Verbascum pinnatifidum Vahl
  • Verbascum pseudonobile Stoj. & Stef.
  • Verbascum pulverulentum Vill. - Hoary mullein
  • Verbascum purpureum (Janka) Hub.-Mor.
  • Verbascum pycnostachyum Boiss. & Heldr.
  • Verbascum pyramidatum M.Bieb.
  • Verbascum reiseri Halácsy
  • Verbascum roripifolium (Halácsy) I.K.Ferguson
  • Verbascum rotundifolium Ten.
  • Verbascum rupestre (Davidov) I.K.Ferguson
  • Verbascum samniticum Ten.
  • Verbascum scardicola Bornm.
  • Verbascum siculum Tod. ex Lojac.
  • Verbascum sinuatum L. - Wavyleaf mullein
  • Verbascum songaricum Schrenk
  • Verbascum speciosum Schrad. - Showy mullein
  • Verbascum spectabile M.Bieb.
  • Verbascum spinosum L.
  • Verbascum thapsus L. - Great mullein
  • Verbascum undulatum Lam.
  • Verbascum vandasii (Rohlena) Rohlena
  • Verbascum virgatum Stokes - Twiggy mullein
  • Verbascum viridissimum Stoj. & Stef.
  • Verbascum widemannianum Fisch. & Mey.
  • Verbascum xanthophoeniceum Griseb.
  • Verbascum zuccarinii (Boiss.) I.K.Ferguson

Cultivation and uses

Dark Mullein (Verbascum nigrum) flowers closeup.

Various species have been introduced (and in some case naturalised) in the Americas, Australia and Hawaii.

Since the year 2000 a number of new hybrid cultivars have come out that have increased flower size with shorter heights and tend to be longer lived plants. A number have new colors for this genus. Many are raised from seed, both the short lived perennial and biennial types. In the landscape they are valued for their tall narrow stature and for flowering over a long period of time, even in dry soils.

The plant has a long history of use as a medicine, and is an effective treatment for asthma and respiratory disorders[4]. Extracts made from the plant's flowers are a very effective treatment for ear infections. Although this plant is a recent arrival to North America, Native Americans used the ground seeds of this plant as a paralytic fish poison due to their high levels of rotenone. One species, Verbascum thapsus (Great mullein), is used as a herbal remedy for sore throat, cough and lung diseases.

Mullein is also the active ingredient in many alternative smoking blends.


  1. ^ "mullein". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2nd ed. 1989.
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  3. ^ Gao HM, Liu B, Hong JS (16 July 2003). "Critical role for microglial NADPH oxidase in rotenone-induced degeneration of dopaminergic neurons". The Journal of Neuroscience 23 (15): 6181–7. PMID 12867501. 
  4. ^ Tierra, Michael, C.A., O.M.D. & John Lust, N.D. (2003). The Natural Remedy Bible (revised and updated ed.). New York: Pocket Books. pp. 164,180. ISBN 0-7434-6642-X. 


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