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Photospot: hoary mullein

"Tricky group, mulleins." I can hear myself saying it (yes, also for crucifers, umbellifers and others). There is some truth in that, in eastern Europe anyway, where even with a specialist local flora all may not be clear.

But in the UK, it's likely that a mullein will be one of just three species — or just two outside East Anglia. It's that East Anglian species featured here.

hoary mullein

This plant caught my eye when driving past a small area of rough ground by King Street, Norwich. The multi-branched, candelabra effect immediately makes hoary mullein the likely ID. I returned later by bike.

hoary mullein

On the left picture, the lack of purple hairs on stamens rules out dark mullein Verbascum nigrum, which is 'little branched'. Great mullein (Aaron's rod) Verbascum thapsus is usually unbranched. The grey down is visible in both pictures, but that becomes much reduced on the leaves.

6 spot burnet moth small copper ringlet

Flowers = insects! In just a few minutes there were several 6-spot burnet moths (above, left) and six butterflies species: small copper and ringlet (above), meadow brown, common blue, large white and small tortoiseshell. Note how black knapweed is a favoured flower for the three above, and for this red-tailed bumblebee.

red-tailed bumblebee

Photographs on this page by Chris Durdin, all apart from the caterpillar taken on 8 July 2014.
More nature notes

Part of the old City wall, in the background.

Hoary mullein Verbascum pulverulentum.

Hoary means greyish with short hairs; pulverulentum means powdery (think pulverize).

Map and further reading: the Online Atlas of the British & Irish Flora. Photos on this Biological Records Centre website by Honeyguide's Chris Gibson. Map from this source.

distribution map

Hoary mulleins grow elsewhere in and near Norwich. There were several round the railway line today (8 July 2014).

mullein moth caterpillar

Mullein moth caterpillar, on figwort, NWT Thorpe Marshes July 2012, and not on this plant.

Growing companions

This scruffy little corner by the ring road has developed a rather nice ruderal flora. The mullein is just right of my bike, on the disturbed edge of the well-worn path.

chicory

Chicory

hairy tare

Hairy tare: under-whelming flowers, but distinctively hairy pods.

meadow cranesbiil

Meadow cranesbill. Quite often on new road verges - could this have been sown?

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