Photo of the Week

Great Mullein
Great Mullein
Verbascum thapsus, Scrophulariaceae
Kilpoola Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Nikon D5100, 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6
July 27, 2014

This weeks photo is of a great (can be more than 2 meters tall) eurasian weed common on BC’s roadsides. Great Mullein is not normally an aggressive weed since it is one of the first colonists of disturbed soil and does not tolerate shading by other plants. Its fruiting spike is persistent and seems to be a favorite purchasing spot for sagebrush birds like Brewer’s Sparrows, and Say’s Phoebes. It has a rich history of use by humans and had a historical association with witches. Herbal teas made from the leaves were often used as a remedy for cough and other pulmonary ailments. Perhaps the coolest use was the practice of dipping the dried spike of the plant in tallow for use as a torch.

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