Verbascum thapsus, Mullein

Mullein, Verbascum thapsus

Common Name:  Mullein

Other Names:  Aaron’s Rod, Adam’s Flannel, American Mullein, Beggar’s Blanket, Blanket Herb, Blanket Leaf, Bouillon Blanc, Bouillon Jaune, Bunny’s ears, Candleflower, Candlewick, Cierge Cotonneux, Cierge de Notre-Dame, Cowboy toilet paper, Clot-Bur, Clown’s Lungwort, Cuddy’s Lungs, Duffle, European Mullein, Faux Bouillon-Blanc, Feltwort, Flannel, Flannelflower, Fleur de Grand Chandelier, Fluffweed, Gidar Tamaku, Gordolobo, Hag’s Taper, Hare’s Beard, Hedge Taper, Herbe de Saint-Fiacre, Herbe Saint Fiacre, Higtaper, Jacob’s Staff, Longwort, Molène, Molène à Grandes Fleurs, Molène Bouillon-Blanc, Molène Faux-Phlomis, Molène Thapsus, Orange Mullein, Oreille de Loup, Oreille de Saint Cloud, Our Lady’s Flannel, Queue de Loup, Rag Paper, Shepherd’s Club, Shepherd’s Staff, Tabac du Diable, Torch Weed, Torches, Velvet Plant, Verbasci Flos, Verbascum densiflorum, Verbascum phlomides, Verbascum thapsiforme, Verbascum thapsus, Wild Ice Leaf, Woolen, Woolly Mullein

Botanical Name:  Verbascum thapsus

Family:  Scrophulariaceae, the figwort family.  More than 360 known species

Composition:  astringent, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, mucilage (contained in leaves and seeds), sedative

Origin:  Native to Asia, Europe and northern Africa.  Highest species diversity is located in the Mediterranean.  It was introduced into the Americas and Australia

Method of Extraction:  dried flowers, leaves and root

Cultivation / Harvesting:  Organic and Kosher

Plant Description:  a biennial or perennial, self-pollinating plant whose description can help determine the age of the plant.  First year plants have very large leaves (up to 1′ in length) and no flowers.  Second year plants have the same large leaves but flowers grow on a stalk in the middle of the plant that can be up to 8′ tall.  The leaves alternate to direct water from the leaves down the stalk.  The flowers will vary by variety and may be pink, yellow or purple.  The fruit is a capsule containing numerous minute seeds

Plant Part:  the leaf/flower is used medicinally for asthma, chest colds and irritated mucous membranes .  A decoction of the roots are used for colds and smoking of the leaves for asthma

Color:  leaves are pale green to silvery and densely haired (fuzzy), flowers can be yellow (most common), pink, purple, orange, red-brown, blue or white

Consistency:  thick mucous-like

Available Forms:  capsules, compress, decoction, dry powder, fomentation (hot compress), injectible (mostly in Asian countries), tea, tablets, tincture (liquid alcohol extract), tisanes (herbal infusion), topical creams, ointments, rinses, salves, and washes

How does it work?  Mullein contains chemicals that work as an antibacterial against bacteria that cause respiratory infections, and as an antiviral against herpes viruses and influenza

Properties:  antibacterial, antiviral, astringent, cough suppressant, emollient, expectorant, mildly demulcent when ingested

Chakras Affected:  Third eye, color: violet, gender: masculine, planet: Mercury, element: fire

Traditional Chinese Medicine Notes:  Strengthen and replenish qi, the body’s life force and protective energy


catalpol, coumarin, glycosides, hesperidin, rotenone, saponins, verbascoside, verbasterol

Traditional Ethnobotanical Uses

Flowers:  used by traditional Austrian medicine internally as a tea or externally in baths, as a compress or ointment for treatment of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, skin, and veins.  The oil from the flowers (steep flowers in warm carrier oil to extract oil) was used topically to treat hemorrhoids and earaches

Leaves:  rub leaves in armpits to treat “prickly rash”.  Poultices were used to treat bruises, hemorrhoids, rheumatic pains and tumors.  Appease and repel evil spirits

Roots:  dried and smoked to treat asthma

Seeds:  Native Americans used the ground seeds as a paralytic fish poison due to their high levels or rotenone

Modern Ethnobotanical Uses

Mullein is taken internally for allergies, asthma, bronchitis, chills, colds, colic, cough, diarrhea, diuretic, earaches, ear infections, fever, flu, gastrointestinal bleeding, gout, hoarseness, joint pain, migraines, pneumonia, sore throat, swine flu, tonsillitis, tuberculosis, and whooping cough

Flowers:  an infusion of the oil can be used to treat earaches, hemorrhoids.  Dyes are made from the plant’s flowers

Leaves:  applied topically to soften and protect the skin, treat burns, bruises, cellulitis, hemorrhoids, infection, frostbite and wounds.  The hairs on the leaves are used to make a wick and torch.  Leaves are smoked to treat asthma and other respiratory conditions

Roots:  boiling the root to treat croup and other respiratory infections.  Dried and smoked to treat asthma

Seeds:  N/A

Stalk:  considered a first-rate drill when creating a fire from a friction method

Mullein is used by manufacturers in alcoholic beverages as a flavoring agent

The entire plant is used to ward off evil spirits

Safety & Side effects 

There are no known side effects

Some people find the hairs irritating.  Small patch testing should be used with sensitive people.  Strain plant material through a fine-weave cloth or unbleached coffee filter to remove any stray hairs

Interactions with Drugs or Medical Conditions

There are no known interactions with drugs or medical conditions

Recommended Dosage

  • Tea/herbal decoction: 3-4 grams daily
  • Powdered root:  3-4 grams daily
  • Capsule: 3-4 grams daily
  • Ointment: 3-4 grams daily
  • Oil:  an oil of the flowers can be used topically in the ear.  Use 1-3 drops as needed and depending on age.  Always use caution when placing any oil directly in the ear.  Oil can be placed behind the ear


Mullein does not compete well with other plants, so you’ll likely find this plant alone in deserted areas and because of it’s hairiness, it is resistant to grazing and contact herbicides

Purchase Mullein


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