Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

Great Mullein Marks Roads

Cracking email in from Canada…

Hi Tristan

Excellent newsletter, thanks very much!

Just thought I would mention something I noticed while out in the Hills today~ I was exploring new areas and had moved off the Forest Service Roads that criss-cross this part of British Columbia.

While moving back towards where I thought the road was, I had to check my progress, as I had somewhat lost my bearing.

When I looked up however, I saw a row of great mullein (see attached pics) and I immediately knew the Forest Road was most likely just
behind them, as indeed it was.

This invasive plant seems to grow exclusively along roadsides here in BC, I’m convinced brought there by the wheels of vehicles.

It is actually quite a good indicator of the passage of vehicles and I have rarely seen it anywhere in the hills and mountains away from roads, though of course in the populated valleys it can be seen in gardens etc.

Anyway that large distinctive plant seems a pretty reliable indicator if you lose your way!


Paul (from

Thanks Paul. What a great email to receive. Great mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a plant that likes plenty of light and can tolerate disturbed ground – a winning combination for tracks and paths. Your theory about vehicle tyres sounds good to me.

Thanks again, Tristan

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