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Common Mullein
Photo Credit: Daniel Laubhann

Common Name: Common mullein

Scientific Name: Verbascum thapsus

Habitat: roadsides, disturbed areas, farmland, gravel pits, ornamental beds

Provincial Designation: Noxious

Noxious weeds are plant species that are designated as "noxious weeds" in the Alberta weed regulation. Noxious weeds must be controlled, meaning their growth or spread needs to be prevented.


Common mullein, a biennial in the figwort family, is native to Asia. It was deliberately introduced to the United States in the 1600s as both a medicinal herb and a fish poison. Historically, it has been used to treat a variety of ailments ranging from coughs to earaches. Nowadays, it is grown as an ornamental garden plant.

Legislated Because

Common mullein can overtake and displace native species in disturbed areas, along roadways and railways. It is a difficult plant to eradicate due to the longevity of its seeds. Its seeds can remain viable for 100 years or longer. This plant may also serve as an alternate host for insect pests that feed on fruit trees.


A key characteristic of this plant is that its yellow flowers are arranged on a single 20-50 cm long spike. Individual flowers are 15-20 mm wide and mature from the bottom to top in a spiral pattern.

The leaves are covered in dense grey hairs making the leaves woolly and soft to the touch. Upper stem leaves are alternately arranged with blades of the leaves extending down along the stem.

The plant grows up to 2 m tall.

Learn more about this species:

See Fact Sheets - Alberta Invasive Species Council

For More Information

Weed Management


In Edmonton: 311

Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311


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