Great mullein, Verbascum thapsus

Verbascum thapsus

Great mullein

  • Botanical name: Verbascum thapsus
  • Common name: Great mullein
  • Family: Scrophulariaceae
  • Plant Type: Biennial
Flower colour:


Foliage colour:


Great or woolly mullein, Verbascum thapsus, is a statuesque biennial with a wide native distribution throughout Europe, north Africa and Asia.


In its first year it produces a rosette of large, silvery leaves that are covered in a dense layer of furry hairs – an adaptation to growing in sunny, free-draining soils. In the second year, a tall, sometimes branched flower spike emerges, bearing short-lived but numerous yellow flowers. It’s a great plant for wildlife – carder bees (Anthidium) use the ‘fur’ on the leaves to build their nests, the flowers attract bees and hoverflies and the foliage serves as a caterpillar food plant.


It’s a good self-seeder, and is often found growing on disturbed soils where the long-lived seeds have been able to germinate. For best results grow Verbascum thapsus in full sun in well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil. It’s best not to crowd it too much with other plants, as it’s easily overcrowded and outcompeted in these situations.

How to grow Verbascum thapsus

  • Plant size

    2.5m height

    50cm spread

  • Aspect

    South facing, west facing

  • Position in border

    Front, middle

  • Sun exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Soil type: Chalky / alkaline / well drained / light / sandy

Verbascum thapsus and wildlife

Verbascum thapsus is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects and other pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant and has nectar/pollen rich flowers.

Attractive to Bees

Attractive to Beneficial insects

Does not attract Birds

Does not attract Butterflies​/​Moths

Attractive to Other pollinators

Is Verbascum thapsus poisonous?

Verbascum thapsus has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds

No reported toxicity to Cats

No reported toxicity to Dogs

No reported toxicity to Horses

No reported toxicity to Livestock

No reported toxicity to People

Plants that go well with Verbascum thapsus