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White Mullein

Verbascum lychnitis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Scrophulariaceae (Figwort)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Gardens, roadsides, wasteland, woodland.

White, 5 petals
The flower spikes are candelabra-branched. The flowers themselves are short-stalked and cup-shaped. Easy to identify since not many Mullein species have white flowers. Flowers are yellow in Somerset. Flowers measure 1.5 to 2cm across. The 5 stamens are white and have whitish hairs. Orange anthers. Pollinated by flies, butterflies and moths.
Egg-shaped fruit. Seeds ripening in August and September.
Dark grey-green leaves. The leaves are broadly lance-shaped, felty and form a basal rosette. Some stem leaves are also present. The stem is angular and erect. Biennial or short-lived perennial.
Other Names:
Candlewick Plant, White Torches, White Woolly Mullein.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Verbascum lychnitis, also known as white mullein, is a biennial herb that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is a member of the Scrophulariaceae family and can grow up to 6 feet tall. It has spikes of large, white flowers that bloom in the late spring and early summer. The leaves are green and covered in fine, soft hairs, and the plant has a tall, densely branched stem. Verbascum lychnitis is not considered an invasive weed and it can be found in waste ground, roadsides, and along paths. It is not commonly used in traditional medicine or as a culinary herb, but it's commonly grown as an ornamental plant for its showy flowers and attractive form. It's also used as a traditional remedy for respiratory issues and skin problems.


White Mullein (Verbascum lychnitis) is a plant native to Europe and parts of Asia. It is a member of the Scrophulariaceae family and is commonly referred to as White Woolly Mullein, White Torches, or Candlewick Plant. The plant has a tall, erect stem that can reach up to 1.5 meters in height and produces beautiful white flowers that bloom from June to September.

The leaves of the White Mullein plant are soft and woolly, and they grow in a basal rosette. They are oblong or lance-shaped and can grow up to 30 cm long and 10 cm wide. The stem of the plant is also covered in soft, woolly hairs, and it has clusters of flowers that grow in a spike at the top of the stem.

The flowers of the White Mullein are large and showy, with five petals that are fused together to form a funnel-shaped bloom. They are typically white, although sometimes they may have a yellow tinge. The flowers have a sweet scent and are visited by a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and moths.

White Mullein is a hardy plant that can tolerate a variety of growing conditions. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil, but it can also grow in partial shade and tolerate poor soil conditions. It is drought-tolerant and can survive in areas with low rainfall.

The White Mullein plant has a long history of medicinal use. It was traditionally used to treat respiratory conditions, such as coughs, bronchitis, and asthma. It was also used as a diuretic and to treat urinary tract infections. The leaves of the plant were often used to make a poultice to treat wounds and burns.

In modern times, White Mullein is still used in herbal medicine. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and is often used to treat respiratory conditions. It is also used as a natural remedy for ear infections, as the oil from the flowers is believed to have antimicrobial properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, White Mullein is also a popular garden plant. Its tall, showy spikes of flowers make it an attractive addition to any garden, and it is often used as a backdrop plant or in cottage gardens.

White Mullein has also been used in traditional folk medicine as a treatment for various skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. The leaves of the plant can be made into a tea, which is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system and help alleviate anxiety and insomnia.

The plant has also been used for dyeing wool and fabric. The flowers and leaves of White Mullein can be boiled to create a yellow dye, while the roots can be used to create a brown dye.

Despite its many benefits, it is important to note that White Mullein can be toxic if ingested in large quantities. It contains rotenone, a naturally occurring insecticide that can cause nausea, vomiting, and dizziness if consumed in high doses. As with any herbal remedy, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using White Mullein for medicinal purposes.

In some regions, White Mullein is considered an invasive species, as it can spread rapidly and crowd out native plants. It is important to check with local authorities before planting White Mullein in the garden to ensure that it is not considered invasive in your area.

White Mullein has a close relative called the Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), which is also used for medicinal purposes. The two plants have many similarities, including their woolly leaves and tall flower spikes. However, the Common Mullein has yellow flowers, while the White Mullein has white flowers.

The Common Mullein is native to Europe and Asia, but it has naturalized in many parts of North America and is considered an invasive species in some regions. Like the White Mullein, the Common Mullein has a long history of medicinal use, particularly for respiratory conditions.

In addition to its medicinal uses, the Common Mullein has also been used for other purposes throughout history. Its dried leaves have been used as a natural torch, and its soft, woolly leaves have been used for insulation and as toilet paper.

Overall, both White Mullein and Common Mullein are fascinating plants with rich histories and numerous uses. Whether used for medicinal purposes, as natural dyes, or for their ornamental value in the garden, these plants have much to offer and are worthy of further exploration.

Facts about White Mullein

Some interesting facts about White Mullein (Verbascum lychnitis) include:

  • White Mullein is also known as Candlewick Plant, White Torches, and White Woolly Mullein.
  • The plant is native to Europe and parts of Asia, but it has been introduced to other regions and is now considered an invasive species in some areas.
  • White Mullein has a long history of medicinal use, particularly for respiratory conditions, such as coughs, bronchitis, and asthma.
  • The plant is also used in herbal medicine as a natural remedy for ear infections and to treat skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.
  • White Mullein is a hardy plant that can tolerate a variety of growing conditions, including poor soil and drought.

In summary, White Mullein is a versatile plant with a rich history of medicinal use and cultural significance. It has beautiful white flowers and woolly leaves, and it can be used for a variety of purposes, including herbal medicine, natural dyeing, and ornamental gardening. However, it is important to use caution when consuming or using the plant, as it can be toxic in large doses and may be invasive in some regions.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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