Noxious weed of the month: common mullein

Common mullein

By Ethan Proud
PREVIEW Columnist
The noxious weed of the month is the common mullein.
It is a Colorado Department of Agriculture List C Weed and is listed for suppression, or a reduction of reproductive success.
Common mullein thrives in disturbed and bare ground areas and is typically outcompeted by natives in undisturbed environments. It prefers well-drained, dry soils and plenty of sun. In areas with frequent human disturbance, thick stands of mullein can form.
Each mullein plant has the capability of producing 100,000 seeds, which are viable for 100 years. In areas such as right of ways, industrial yards and more, mullein must be controlled or thinned, or a monoculture will develop and the seed bank of mullein will outlast many of the native seeds in the soil. Periodic disturbance triggers seedling establishment and, in natural environments, mullein is typically not problematic.
Common mullein is a biennial and can grow up to 7 feet tall. To reduce mullein populations, simply dig up rosettes and clip off flowering head before seed set. Herbicides must be used in conjunction with a surfactant due to mullein’s hairy leaves that wick water. These hairs are an irritant to grazing animals, making the plant unpalatable and, as such, grazing is largely ineffective as a control. Common mullein populations are a symptom of overgrazing.
Despite being a noxious weed, mullein has been used for herbal remedies going back centuries. It is commonly used to relieve skin, throat and respiratory ailments and is typically made into infusions or oils, poultices and teas.
Archuleta County Weed and Pest is your local resource for managing noxious weed populations and controlling other pests.
Seed potato orders
Orders are now being taken for Colorado-certified seed potatoes from the San Luis Valley. There are red, white, blue and pink varieties for $1 per pound.
They will be ready to pick up May 9-11. Please call the CSU Extension office to place your order.
CPR and first aid classes
CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.