Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Verbascum thapsus
L., Scrophulariaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  yes

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 11 (Go to the risk assessment)

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: mao rui hua

English: Aaron's rod, big taper, common mullein, flannel mullein, flannel plant, flannelleaf, great mullein, hag taper, mullein, torches, velvet dock, velvet plant, woolly mullein

French: bouillon blanc, grande molène, molène

Spanish: gordolobo común, guardalobo, hierba del Paño

Habit:  herb

Description:  "Stout biennial herbs 3-20 dm tall in the second year, densely yellowish woolly tomentose throughout, the hairs stellate or dendritic.  Basal leaves obovate to oblanceolate, 8-50 cm long, 2.5-14 cm wide, densely yellowish or whitish woolly tomentose, margins entire to shallowly crenate; cauline leaves becoming progressively smaller toward the inflorescence, oblanceolate, sessile and decurrent on stem.  Flowers in compact, spike-like panicles, pedicels partly adnate to the stem; calyx (5-) 8-12 mm long, the lobes lanceolate; corolla yellow, rarely white, 8-15 mm long, scurfy pubescent externally, sometimes also ciliate, the hairs stellate; upper 3 staminal filaments villous with yellow hairs, the lower 2 glabrous to sparsely villous.  Capsules broadly ovoid to elliptic-ovoid, 0.7-1 cm long, densely tomentose with stellate or branched hairs"  (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 1247).

Habitat/ecology:  "Grassland, riparian habitats, disturbed sites.  This plant is found mainly on dry sandy soils and primarily colonizes sites of low fertility.  It forms dense patches with the large rosettes that shad out native plants.  The plant spreads rapidly after disturbances and forms a continuous cover, eliminating the native vegetation"  (Weber, 2003; p. 448).

In Hawai‘i, "naturalized and sometimes locally common, usually in open sites, cinder cones, subalpine woodland and shrubland to alpine desert, 1,550-2,350 m" (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 1247). In New Zealand, "poor stony or gravelly pastures, screes, stony river beds, roadsides and railways, shingle river banks and beds, dry waste places, sea level to c. 1000 m" (Webb et al., 1988; p. 1205).  "In Chile this species grows in the following environmental conditions:  Medium altitude up to the timber line; low altitude, interior valleys; coastal mountains, 500-2000 m; coastal areas, 0-500 m.  Somewhat dry areas where the drought may last 3-5 months, precipitations of 400-800 mm. are concentrated in winter; dry, arid areas, with long drought periods of 6-10 months, precipitations of 100 mm-300 mm. are concentrated in winter.  Fully exposed to the sun, level areas or slopes facing north"  (Chileflora).

Propagation:  Seed.  "The long-lived seeds may remain viable in the soil for several decades.  Once exposed to light they germinate rapidly"  (Weber, 2003; p. 448).

Native range:  Eurasia (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 1247).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia (Pacific offshore islands)
Norfolk Islands
Norfolk Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Orchard, Anthony E., ed. (1994) (p. 10)
"Probably introduced as a garden plant but now occasionally naturalised". Vouchers cited: W.R. Sykes NI 368 (CHR); 1898, I. Robinson (NSW)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más Afuera (Alejandro Selkirk Island) introduced
invasive
Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John (2011)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más Afuera (Alejandro Selkirk Island) introduced
invasive
Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido (2006) (p. 558)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1247)
Voucher cited: L. W. Bryan s.n. (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1247)
Subject of an eradication program, may no longer be present.
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Chile (continental)
Chile
Chile (Republic of) introduced
invasive
Belov, Michail (2013)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Japan
Japan
Japan (country) introduced
Mito, Toshikazu/Uesugi, Tetsuro (2004) (p. 189)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. (1988) (p. 1205)
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (Oregon) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (California) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (Washington) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
invasive
Lavergne, Christophe (2006)
"Envahissant"
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
invasive
Baret, Stephane/Rouget, Mathieu/Richardson, David M./Lavergne, Christophe/Egoh, Benis/Dupont, Joel/Strasberg, Dominique (2006) (p. 758)
Also reported from
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Canada (except British Colombia)
Canada
Canada (country) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
USA (Florida) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)

Control:  Additional control information from the Bugwood Wiki.

Physical:  "Individual plants can be killed by cutting c. 8 cm below the soil surface to remove the top of the taproot.  Cutting stands before seed set prevents dispersal and burial of seeds".  (Weber, 2003; p. 448).  "Pulling a digging out roots was effective but labor-intensive and soil disturbing (Chris Zimmer, HAVO).  Plants are best controlled during the rosette stage.  Goats browse on mullein"  (Motooka et al., 2003).

Chemical:  "Chemical control is done by spraying rosettes with 2,4-D, glyphosate or tebuthiuron.  Repeated applications may be necessary to control regrowth"  (Weber, 2003; p. 448).  "Very sensitive to metsulfuron at 0.1 oz./acre.  Young plants sensitive to 2,4-D and glyphosate.  HAVO staff have controlled mullein with glyphosate at 1% of product in water formulation in foliar application (Chris Zimmer, HAVO)"  (Motooka et al., 2003).

Additional information:
Excerpt from the book "Weeds of Hawaii‘s Pastures and Natural Areas; An Identification and Management Guide" (Motooka et al., 2003). (PDF format).
Fact sheet from the Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group
Information from the Bugwood Wiki.
Information from the Global Invasive Species Database.
Photos and other information from Chileflora.

Additional online information about Verbascum thapsus is available from the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR).

Information about Verbascum thapsus as a weed (worldwide references) may be available from the Global Compendium of Weeds (GCW).

Taxonomic information about Verbascum thapsus may be available from the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).

References:

Ansari, S./Daehler, C. C. 2000. Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus): A literature review. PCSU technical report #127 (May 2000). .

Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John. 2011. Naturalized species in the Juan Fernández Archipelago, Chile. Unpublished spreadsheet.

Baret, Stephane/Rouget, Mathieu/Richardson, David M./Lavergne, Christophe/Egoh, Benis/Dupont, Joel/Strasberg, Dominique. 2006. Current distribution and potential extent of the most invasive alien plant species on La Réunion (Indian Ocean, Mascarene islands). Austral Ecology (2006) 31, 747-758.

Belov, Michail. 2013. Chileflora (online resource).

Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido. 2006. Nouveau catalogue de la flore vaculaire de l'archipel Juan Fernández (Chile) [Nuevo catálogo de la flora vacular del Archipélago Juan Fernández (Chile)]. Acta Bot. Gallica 153(4):399-587.

Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. 1979. A geographical atlas of world weeds. John Wiley & Sons, New York. 391 pp.

Lavergne, Christophe. 2006. List des especes exotiques envahissantes a La Reunion. Unpublished manuscript (Excel file). .

Mito, Toshikazu/Uesugi, Tetsuro. 2004. Invasive alien species in Japan: the status quo and the new regulation for prevention of their adverse effects. Global Environmental Research 8(2)/2004: 171-191.

Motooka, Philip/Castro, Luisa/Nelson, Duane/Nagai, Guy/Ching, Lincoln. 2003. Weeds of Hawaii‘s Pastures and Natural Areas; An Identification and Management Guide. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa. 184 pp.

Orchard, Anthony E., ed. 1994. Flora of Australia. Vol. 49, Oceanic islands 1. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

U. S. Government. 2013. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (on-line resource).

U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. 2013. National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online searchable database.

U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. 2013. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Revised edition. Bernice P. Bishop Museum special publication. University of Hawai‘i Press/Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 1919 pp. (two volumes).

Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. 1988. Flora of New Zealand, Volume IV: Naturalised pteridophytes, gymnosperms, dicotyledons. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch. 1365 pp.

Weber, Ewald. 2003. Invasive plants of the World. CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 548 pp.

Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong. 2013. Flora of China (online resource).


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This page was created on 27 FEB 2006 and was last updated on 31 MAY 2011.