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Mr. Smarty Plants - Flower with spike of yellow flowers with hairy purple filaments

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Tuesday - July 03, 2012

From: Portland, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Flower with spike of yellow flowers with hairy purple filaments
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Fuzzy purple stamens! I can't find this plant identified anywhere. Blooms abt 1" or a little more across. 5 yellow petals, 5 sepals, & 5 stamens with yellow anthers, & the filaments are covered with long purple hairs. Blooms whorled around a spike 2-4' tall, seen next to wetland & in a meadow. Blooms are quickly followed by large hard capsules. A clasping, cordate to ovate leaf beneath each flower-stem. What the heck is this lovely thing, and I hope hope hope it's native!

ANSWER:

This does sound like a beautiful plant.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find it in our Native Plant Database.  The plants that do come to mind, however, are the Verbascum species.  They are about 2 feet tall with spikes of yellow flowers.  In particular, Verbascum blattaria (moth mullein) is described as having hairy purple stamen filaments.  The flower petals can be yellow or white tinged with pink.   It is not, unfortunately, a native plant but an introduced species from Eurasia.  Its distribution includes nearly all of North America and it appears on the Colorado State List of Noxious Weeds.  There are other species of Verbascum, all introduced, that occur in North America and some even occur in Oregon, but none have the hairy purple filaments like those of V. blattaria.

 

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