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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - April 30, 2008

From: Atlanta, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Correct photos of Cynoglossum virginianum
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I recently found some "wild comfrey" (Cynoglossum virginianum) growing in woodlands in Atlanta,GA. When I used the photos on Wildflower Center website to ID this plant, I found what appears to be two different plants pictured under this name. One has a rather large rosette of fuzzy gray leaves and a yellow flower stalk (common name known to me is "moth mullin"), while the other has green leaves and tiny blue flowers atop a single stalk. Can you clarify which plants these two are? Thank you

ANSWER:

We went to our Image Gallery and found this page of Images of Cynoglossum virginianum (wild comfrey) and we agree it's difficult to tell if the pictures are all the same plant. So, we went shopping for other images of the same name and found another page of Images of Cynoglossum virginianum (wild comfrey).

Next, we did some research on "moth mullein", and again found a page of Images of Verbascum blattaria. Verbascum blattaria or moth mullein does not appear in our Native Plant Database, as it is a native of Europe and Asia. Of course, it has spread to just about every part of the United States, including Georgia. It does have a large stalk of rosettes of either pale pink or yellow flowers.

The two pictures below in our Image Gallery do, indeed, correspond to the descriptions of the native "wild comfrey" with small blue or white flowers atop a single stalk. The other six pictures we have not been able to identify clearly as either Verbascum blattaria or Cynoglossum virginianum (wild comfrey). So, we referred this to our plant guru, who tells us all six of the remaining pictures originally on the page for wild comfrey were misidentified. They are actually Verbascum thapsus, a non-native common in the United States. We appreciate your bringing this error to our attention, and the incorrect images have been removed from the database.


Cynoglossum virginianum


Cynoglossum virginianum

 

 

 

 

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