Verbascum. Verbascum Thapsus L. Mullein. Flores Verbasci, P. G. Bouillon blanc, Molene, Fr. Wollkraut, Königskerze, G. (Fam. Scrophulariaceae.—The ordinary mullein weed is too well known to need description. As remedial agents both leaves and flowers have been employed. Mullein Flowers (Verbasci Flores) are official in the N. F. IV and are described as "the dried corollas, with adhering stamens, of Verbascum phlomoides Linné or of Verbascum thapsiforme Schraeder (Fam. Scrophulariaceae). Preserve the flowers in tightly-closed containers. Corolla light-yellow, the outer surface grayish with a fine, soft, woolly indumentum, the inner surface sparsely hairy and finely veined; tube of the corolla only 1 or 2 mm. in length and almost equally broad, the limb from 14 to 30 mm. in breadth, between wheel-shaped and saucer-shaped, obscurely two-lipped, the unequal lobes rounded-obovate. Stamens five, borne on the base of the corolla, shorter than the corolla, two of them longer than the other three, the filaments thick and fleshy, more or less pilose, especially the three shorter ones, usually orange colored. Stamen-hairs cylindrical, unicellular, non-branching, surface minutely reticulate, apex rounded, frequently enlarged. Pollen grains smooth, triangular and more or less rounded, from 0.025 to 0.03 mm. in diameter. The flowers impart a yellow color to boiling water, and a rather permanent green color with dilute sulphuric acid, the latter color becoming brown upon the addition of alkalies. Odor peculiar, agreeable; taste mucilaginous, not agreeable. Mullein Flowers yield not more than 6 per cent. of ash." N. F. Mullein Leaves (Verbasci Folio,) are official in the N. F. IV and are described as "the dried leaves of Verbascum Thapsus Linné (Fam. Scrophulariaceae), and of other species of Verbascum. Obovate with narrowed base, or varying to oblong or oblong-lanceolate, without a true petiole, obtuse or tending toward acuteness at the summit, from 1 to 6 dm. in length and from 3 to 15 cm. in breadth; very thick, rather tough, light yellowish-gray or greenish-gray, densely long-tomentose, with numerous, multicellular, branching, non-glandular hairs. Nearly odorless; taste mucilaginous and slightly bitter. Verbascum yields not more than 14 per cent. of ash." N. F.
Mullein leaves are demulcent and emollient, and are thought to possess anodyne properties, which render them useful in pectoral complaints. On the continent of Europe, an infusion of the flowers, strained in order to separate the rough, hairs, is considerably used in mild. catarrhs. An oil, produced by saturating olive oil with mullein flowers, during prolonged exposure to the sun, is used as a local application in Germany for piles and other mucous membrane inflammations. The mullein oils sold in pharmacies are of this nature, or some of them alcoholic tinctures. The dried leaves are sometimes smoked, to relieve irritation of the respiratory mucous membranes; fomentations with mullein leaves also have some repute as anodynes. Internally, the decoction (an ounce to the pint, flowering tips) may be taken in the quantity of from four to six fluidounces.
According to L. Rosenthal (P. J., July, 1902), the seeds of Verbascum sinuatum L., which are used in Greece as a fish poison, contain 6.13 per cent. of saponin. Traces of the same substance were found in the fruits of V. phlomoides L. and V. thapsiforme Schrad.
Verbascum flowers were introduced in the N. F. IV as one of the ingredients in Pectoral species, and the leaves in Fluidextract of mullein leaves made with diluted alcohol.
Dose, one to two drachms (3.9-7.8 Gm.).