Mar. 14, 2019

clasping mullein, Verbascum phlomoides

Verbascum is an Eurasian genus of about 360 species. Thirteen of those have immigrated to North America. Most are biennials. Which of us as kids did not look at those rosettes of fuzzy leaves of this or the more common V. thapsus, and know there had to be good uses for them? Which of us was not mostly disappointed? Which of us hasn't read the Farmer's Almanac with interest and some degree of faith? Which of us was not disabused? One issue of the Almanac said early European settlers learned from Indians how to use mullein leaves as toilet paper. First of all, the settlers brought the plant to the Indians. Secondly, if when you were young you tried it, you know it's not that good an idea. But perhaps at some point, in the fullness of time, that was one small gesture of revenge, good for a much needed laugh or two. This species has been reported from CO, CT, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV, AB, BC, ON, PE, and QC. Beal Gardens, MSU, 6/25/16.