Biennial herb to 2 m tall, covered with greyish hair. Basal leaves obovate to elliptic, to 40 cm or so long, entire or wavy-toothed, stalked. Flowers with corolla to about 3 cm wide, yellow; Nov-Mar. Stamens 5, 1-1.5 cm long. Fruit capsule to about 1 cm long, hairy.
A widespread environmental weed of woodland, pasture and disturbed ground.
V. bombyciferum Boiss. from Turkey is a biennial with white-hairy ovate to oblong leaves to about 40 cm long. Flowers 3-4 cm wide, yellow. It is sometimes available as V. 'Arctic Summer' which has exceptionally silvery leaves and yellow flowers. [V. 'Polarsommer']
V. olympicum Boiss. from Greece is another biennial to perennial species with branched flower spikes and is offered for its remarkable white-felted leaves, the basal rosette sometimes being up to 1 m wide, the individual lanceolate basal leaves being up to 60 cm or so long and flowers 2-3 cm wide.
V. blattaria L., Moth Mullein, from Eurasia is biennial and distinguished by its irregularly toothed leaf margins; it is widely naturalised.
Perennials sometimes offered include: V. phoeniceum L., Purple Mullein, a perennial with distinctive purple flowers; and V. chaixii Vill., Nettle-leaved Mullein, with grey-hairy leaves but yellow flowers, and filaments with violet hairs.
Source: (2002). Scrophulariaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 4. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 3. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.