This mullein species has no English common name (mullein is the common name for the genus), which is not surprising considering its rarity in horticulture. In fact, a Google search for the name suggests that the alpine garden at UBC is one of the few places in the world you can see it in cultivation. To see it in the wild, you would need to travel to the Balkan Mountains.
If you were to visit the garden at UBC though, you’d notice that it is labelled as “Verbascum sp. (seedling of Verbascum eriophorum)”. It is a prime example of the difficulty in maintaining the genetic integrity of the plants in garden collections. From a research perspective, the most valuable plants in collections are often those of documented wild origin. These plants are known to share the genetic makeup of their wild counterparts, and can therefore be assumed in research undertakings to represent the true taxon. Plants of cultivated origin, or n generations removed from the wild populations, may have hybridized at some point – a particular risk in botanical gardens where a number of species from the same genus or closely related genera may exist in close proximity. With the possible introduction of foreign genes, it is impossible to be absolutely certain that the plant continues to be representative of the wild type, making it less valuable in research that relies on genetics.
Woody plants that do not reproduce for decades are the easiest plants to retain as known and documented wild origin, followed by woody plants with shorter generation times. Some perennials are difficult to keep genetically intact, while plants that are biennial or annual are virtually impossible (they would require seed to be collected from wild populations to be sown every one to two years). This is the case with this Verbascum, a biennial. The original seeds were wild-collected, and the first generation of the plant could be said with certainty to be of known and documented wild origin. As this is now the second generation, the possibility of hybridization has occurred, making the plant less valuable from a research perspective. Outward appearance and comparison of the second generation plants to the first generation (photographs–yes, it is over 2.5m tall) make me comfortable enough to write that it seems to be a similar enough genetic entity for the purpose of BPotD, but I would not bet a Ph.D. on it.
Botany resource link: The name Acacia retained for Australian species via the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research in Australia. Long-time readers of BPotD will know I often write about name changes; here’s an instance where a decision was made to keep a name, instead of a strict interpretation of the rules.