Verbascum blattaria, Moth Mullein

Verbascum blattaria, Moth Mullein with yellow or white flowers, characteristically is described as having a "purple eye" referring to the hairs surrounding the stamens. The fragrance of the flowers has been likened to orris root. The taste of the flowers is mucilaginous and bitter, and historically they were used like common mullein (Verbascum thapsus). In American herbal practice, several Verbascum species’ flowers seem to be used interchangeably without regard to species i.d., with those producing the most abundant branching inflorescences (hence more flowers) are often grown in herb gardens. In describing 9 types of moth mullein under the name "Blattaria" in his Theatrum Botanicum (1640, p. 66), John Parkinson writes, "I can finde no Author hath spoken of any other properties belonging to any of these Blattaries, then those Pliny doth ascribe to the ordinary sort, that is, to gather Mothes unto it, wheresoever it is layed." Of the 7 Blattaria in Gerard's Herbal (1633, p 778), we find "Concerning the plants intituled Blattaria, or Moth Mulleins, I find nothing written, but that Moths and Butter-flies, and all other small flies and bats, do resort to the place where these herbs are layd or strewed.

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