A tall spire of wooly leaves is topped with many bright yellow flowers. Each five-petaled bloom has two lower, straightened stamens and the remaining three are smaller and hairy. This is woolly mullein, or Verbascum thapsus, an invasive species that is now found throughout much of California and the rest of the country.
This plant prefers to grow in dry places, and can grow to more than six feet tall. The leaves are furry like lamb’s ears, and taper progressively smaller towards the top of the stem–giving the whole plant the shape of a narrow christmas tree. In addition to being an invasive, woolly mullein is also a host to insect species that can damage crops. It’s a persistent plant, with seeds that can survive up to 35 years in the soil.