The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Mullein

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MULLEIN, a genus of biennial and perennial herbs (Verbascum) of the natural order Scrophulariaceæ. The species, of which more than 100 have been described and more than 30 are cultivated, have tap roots, woolly foliage in rosettes during the first year, and terminal spikes or racemes of small, usually yellow, flowers which appear from midsummer until late autumn. Some species were formerly reputed medicinal. In America they are usually considered as weeds, but in Europe they are valued as ornamental plants, particularly for mixing with shrubbery and planting in the rear of flower borders. Though natives of the Mediterranean region, some species are known in England as American flannel or velvet plant. The best-known species in the United States are probably the moth mullein (V. blattaria), the common mullein (V. thapsus), the white mullein (V. lychnitis), and V. phlomoides, which are all common in pastures and uncultivated fields.