New York City, NY
United States
Hudson River Park at former Pier 49, between W 11th and W 12th Street New York City AIDS Memorial since 30 November 2008
without names
A Gentle Giant...
Early in May I spied a single rosette of huge, fuzzy, ovate leaves sprouting behind the wall of the AIDS Memorial in Hudson River Park. I knew right away what I was seeing because of the sheer scale of the plant – common mullein, Verbascum thapsus.
Being a biennial, I was not sure if this particular specimen was in its first or second year of growth. The common mullein does not go beyond the rosette phase in its first year. I also feared I might never know. The plant could have been removed outright, or at least trimmed back by gardening staff, so as not to flower, ever, even if it was ready and able.
I was delighted to see the plant remained unscathed. Its height increased incrementally, leaf by leaf, like the stories of a skyscraper-in-progress. When I returned from a short vacation in the beginning of July, I visited the site and found its spike had shot up and had begun to flower. The large yellow blooms consist of five petals surrounding five stamens. These appear in a rough sequence, slowly working up toward the tip, as the summer passes. Photo © rPs Wildflowers of the West Village

14 July 2010
rPs, New York