Quite tall biennial plant, less often perennial, with numerous small yellow flowers. Black mullein is valued by gardeners for its low soil requirements and drought resistance. It is a source of nourishing pollen for honey and wild bees. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.
€1,75 – €7,00
Polish name: common mullein
Latin name: Verbascum nigrum L.
Family: the figwort family Scrophulariaceae
Status in Poland: common, native
A tall (up to 1 m high) biennial plant, less often perennial, with shoots of various shapes, tomentosed leaves, and golden-red inflorescences.
Strong, spindle-shaped, and vertical roots. Single, erect shoots, alternately arranged leaves round in cross-section near the root, angular towards the inflorescences, with thick but shallow ribs.
Like many other mulleins, the black mullein develops four types of leaves on a single stem: basal, middle, top, and bracts. They are all hairy slightly upside, more strongly underside with sumptuous, stellate hairs. The basal leaves with a strongly cordate base, sessile, lanceolate-ovate, or just ovate. The middle ones are acute tipped, with short petioles. The upper ones are truncate, short-petioled or sessile, with a slightly cordate base, and crenate margin. Bracts equal to or longer than flower stalks, linear.
The flowers form from June to September, in the axils of bracts with the bractlets. They are five-parted, slightly pectinate, golden with a reddish spot at the base. The calyx of the black mullein is overgrown with a stellate tomentose, and the corolla is circular, bare, with five clearly visible maroon or purple stamens inside. The entire inflorescence in the form of a fairly dense raceme or quasi-spike, in a few ornamental varieties more paniculate with ribbed stems.
The fruit in the form of an elliptical capsule 4-5 mm long, divided into two parts. The seeds inconspicuous, very numerous, dispersing by wind. Orthodox seeds TSW 0.12-0.13 g.
It prefers permeable light soils, and very bright places, although it tolerates shade. It does not like stagnant water in winter or high calcium content in the substrate. There is no need to water or fertilize it.
The seeds are sown right after harvest, in spring or summer. Older specimens can also be multiplied by dividing expanded clumps into smaller ones or by root cuttings.
Valued for growing in very weak, infertile, contaminated, heavily dry, sandy, acidic soils, it grows spontaneously on railway and tram embankments, roadsides and rubble. It is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental (flower beds, annual hedges, naturalistic gardens), today also treated as a honey plant.
The common mullein is less sensitive to cold and high humidity than the similar nettle-leaved mullein V. chaixii ssp. austriacum.. In Austria and further east an interesting process of replacement of both species can be observed, while the dark mullein grows in colder and wetter places than nettle-leaved mullein, moreover the dark mullein extends far into Siberia. This phenomenon is called vicarious distribution.
It only provides honey bees with pollen, but many beekeepers appreciate it for its long flowering time.
It is useful in the fall, when few plants are blooming.
Eagerly visited by honeybees and solitary bees.