Now more than ever, you might find yourself driving down country roads to see the wonders of blooming wildflowers on the sides of the road. Phlox, coreopsis, gaillardia, fleabane, rudbeckia, and sage. Like many you may even stop and take photographs in the fields.
You might notice a different roadside plant, tall with beautiful yellow flowers beginning to bloom. This tall beauty is Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus. Not only is this plant beautiful it has many useful functions. One of them, now more beneficial, given our current circumstances is its use as a natural toilet paper. Giving this plant the nickname “Cowboy Toilet Paper”. Also known as the Flannel Plant, Mullein is a nonnative biennial, the first year a base of rosette soft fuzzy leaves and year two sending up the flower stalk, as much as 6 feet tall, with those bright yellow flowers. But it’s those soft fuzzy leaves, that give it its name.
The leaves, the roots and the flowers have been used in traditional and modern herbal remedies, teas, tinctures treating colds and earaches and making hair dyes.
You never know what you’ll find traveling down the old Florida country roads.
Author: Marian Moss is a UF/IFAS Master Gardener Volunteer in Columbia County
Feature photo: John Cardina, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org
Photo: Marian Moss, UF/IFAS Extension Columbia County