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Lambs Ear vs Mullein [Top 5 Key Differences]

Are you unsure how to examine the difference between Lambs Ear vs Mullein? Well! Do not worry! I got your back.

You can tell the difference between Lambs Ear vs Mullein by examining their stems, flowers, and growth habit. Mullein has hairy green stems than the stem of the Lambs Ear. Also, on closer look, even the leaves are different.

Thus, read on to unfold the key differences you can use to tell Lambs Ear and Mullein apart from each other, even at first glance.

Lambs Ear Vs Mullein: Similarities

If you are new to gardening, you can easily mistake Lambs Ear or Mullein for one another.

They share a similar appearance, so they are not easy to tell apart at first glance. And the main reason behind the confusion is their leaves.

Interestingly, both Lambs Ear and Mullein have large leaves with soft fuzzy hairs.

Apart from it, these two plants also grow in relatively similar USDA zones. Lambs Ear plant grows well in 4-8 zones, while Mullein grows in 3-9 zones.

Likewise, they both thrive in full sun but tolerate minor partial shade. Further, they both handle a wide range of soil types.

Similarly, they are both drought-tolerant once they have a sound root system.

Lambs Ear Vs Mullein: Differences

You must get closer to the plant to tell the difference between Mullein and Lambs Ear, as they look like each other at first glance from a far distance.

However, they have multiple distinct features that you can use to tell Lambs Ear vs Mullein.

So, let us begin with a brief Lambs Ear vs Mullein table, shall we?

FeaturesLamb's EarMullein
Scientific NameStachys byzantinaVerbascum
Growth HabitPerennialBiennial or Perennial
Leaf TextureSoft, velvety, silver-gray hairsSoft, fuzzy, dense hairs
Leaf ShapeOval or heart-shapedLanceolate or ovate
VariegationStriped PhantomNo variegation
FlowerUsually pink or purple small, inconspicuous flowersTall yellow, orange occasionally white flower spikes
HeightTypically 6-18 inches (15-45 cm)Can reach 3-8 feet (0.9-2.4 m) or more
Stem ColorSilvery-greenGreen or purplish
Stem HairCovered with fine, white hairsCovered with fine, soft hairs
USDA Hardiness ZoneUSDA Zones 4-8USDA Zones 3-9
Maintenance LevelLowLow to moderate
UsesOrnamental plant, ground coverMedicinal herb, ornamental plant, attracts pollinators

Now, let me indulge you in more detailed differences between Mullein and Lambs Ear.

1. Growth Habit

In terms of growth rate, Mullein has relatively faster growth than the Lambs Ear plant.

Further, Lambs Ears, a member of the Mint family, is a perennial plant. So they do not perish and wither away in a year.

On the other hand, Mullein is a biennial or a perennial plant. It means they live for two years straight.

However, in milder climates, Mullein can also act like a perennial. Furthermore, as there are several Mullein species, they tend to have varying growth habits.

2. Plant Appearance

The only safe bet to tell the difference between Mullein and Lambs Ear right off the bat is via their appearance.

The soft and fuzzy Lambs Ear leaves are oval or heart-shaped and covered in silver-gray hairs. Whereas, Mullein leaves are broad, rounded, and covered in dense, soft hairs.

Moreover, the leaves of Lambs Ear are silver-gray, while Mullein has bright green leaves with a purple hue on the underside.

Another distinct trait is plant height. Mullein can grow up to 3-8 feet tall (0.9-2.4 m) or more. Likewise, Lambs Ear is a low-growing plant, reaching heights of 1-2 feet.

Similarly, another difference between Lambs Ear vs Mullein is the stem and its texture.

The Mullein stems are hairier and greener than the silver or grayish stems of Lambs Ear.

3. Flowers

Besides the plant leaves, the flowers of Lambs Ear and Mullein also differ from one another.

Flowers of Lambs Ears are small and come in a purple or pink color palette. But Mullein flowers are yellow or orange in color, with pink flowers in some species.

Besides that, Lambs Ear flowers are only 9 inches tall, unlike Mullein flowers with 18-inch tall spikes. Instead, they are tubular or bell-shaped with small petals.

However, Mullein flowers are tall, dense spikes with unique patterns on the petals.

Here is a Lambs Ear vs Mullein flower in a picture.

flowers of Lambs Ear vs Mullein flowers
Flowers are the easiest way to tell the difference between Lambs Ear and Mullein. Don’t you think?

4. Origin and Family

Lambs Ear (Stachys byzantina) hails their soft, tempting leaves from Turkey, Northern Iran, and Armenia.

Likewise, Mullein plants are native to Northern Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia.

Now, do you know Lambs Ear is a cousin of herbs like Mint, Basil? Yes, Lambs Ear is also a member of the Lamiaceae family.

Meanwhile, like Snapdragon flowers, Mullein belongs to the Scrophulariaceae (or Plantaginaceae) family.

5. Invasive Nature

In comparison, Mullein is more invasive than Lambs Ear due to its greater self-seeding ability.

Nonetheless, both plants are somewhat more invasive than Rose Campion plants.

Mullein can quickly establish themselves and produce flowers with seeds in their 2nd year. With seed dispersal, they can easily crowd the surrounding plants.

Meanwhile, Lambs Ear produces fewer seeds than Mullein. So, they spread rather slowly.

Therefore, both plants demand occasional pruning and deadheading using sterilized scissors to tame their invasive nature.

Editor’s Note

Beware of Skin Irritation From Mullein!

Lambs Ear is safe to touch, but Mullein is not for people with sensitive skin. So, be careful while handing them. Also, wear safety gear to avoid any accidents.

Likewise, Mullein is edible, whereas Lambs Ear is not. Yet, you must not eat Mullein without consulting doctors first.

All The Best!