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I had to laugh when I read in Flora Britannica that, because this plant’s large leaves feel like they are covered in soft grey wool: ‘In a more modern – and practical – vein, mullein has been nicknamed “the Andrex plant”, and its leaves used accordingly.’ I cannot attest to the veracity of this statement!

This is Great mullein (Verbascum thapsus), which also has some wonderful, less recent vernacular names: Aaron’s Rod, Hagtapers, Adam’s flannel, and Our Lady’s candle. These names are no doubt inspired partly by those leaves and also by the enormous yellow-flowered spike, which can grow to four or five feet tall. Mullein is a biennial plant: in its first year there is just a rosette of leaves, and it’s not till its second year that the flower spike grows.