Specimen #57 Common Mullein
Verbascum thapsus L.
also goes by many other names
photo by me at Ledges State Park
Native to Eurasia. My kids always called this lambs ear when they were little because of the soft leaves, like the garden perennial lambs ears. We find them in "waste" areas and margins (as you see here). Different states view them as dangerous in varying degrees.
In addition to the leaves' velvety texture, they are pretty recognizable from their gray-green color.
From Zen's WNC Nature Notebook (the WNC would be West North Carolina. Another amateur naturalist like me):
The velvety leaves and flower stalks have found many purposes. Dipped in tallow or grease the dried stalks have been used for torches, and the leaves still used as wicks. Reportedly, American Indians lined their moccassins with the leaves to insulate against cold and white colonists used them inside their stockings for the same purpose.
A tea made from the leaves was used to treat colds in Appalachia, and in other places the leaf tea was considered good for dysentery. The leaves were smoked for asthma and sore throat by some American Indians and other groups boiled the roots for a mixture to treat children with croup.
The leaves are soothing for mucous membranes and have been used to soften the skin and protect it.
The flowers contain an oil that has been used for earache.