Living down in a creek valley, one direction to go is up and a nearby road does just that. The climb is stiff as the slope is steep and often in the sun. This is a perfect place for flannel leaf mullein to grow.
Usually this plant is referred to only as mullein as it is unique. However flannel leaf mullein is very apt.
The plant is a biennial. The first year it is little more than a rosette of fuzzy triangular leaves. These rosettes grow in any sunny place like lawns, along roads, the edges of fields.
The leaves are light green. Turning them a misty green is the layer of soft hairs. Stroking one explains the name flannel leaf mullein.
Making the stiff climb up the road I find a row of mullein lines the road where the electric line right of way emerges. The opposite side of the road has electric lines on top of the ridge so the entire area is cut short. A patch of mullein has moved in along the road cut and top edge of the ridge.
This is the second year for many of these plants. They have put out great, long, wide, flannel soft leaves in rosettes. A thick flower stalk rises from the center up to six feet.
Mullein is a night bloomer seeking moth pollinators. The brilliant yellow flowers wilt as soon as the sun hits them.
Wanting to see the open flowers I made the climb mid morning after finishing chores. A few stalks were still in the shade with their flowers open.
Photographing these flowers presented another challenge. The flowers were a foot over my head. The thick stalk is stiff, but a little flexible. Pulling one over brought the flowers within reach.
The petals are smooth and flare. Inside some of the anthers are wreathed with hairs.
Releasing the flower stalk gradually I enjoyed the soft feel of the flannel leaf mullein and turned to walk slowly and carefully down the loose gravel on the steep road leading home.
More Ozark wildflowers are found in “Exploring the Ozark Hills“.