This biannual plant produces only a whorl of leaves the first year, but in the second year, it grows to more than five feet. The small, lancet-shaped leaves have no stem. The branching shoots bear numerous insignificant pale yellow flowers in June, in thick, upright clusters. The upper ends follow the sun. All the above-ground parts of the plant, fresh or dried, gathered shortly before it stops blooming in June. Native to Western Asia and the Mediterranean area and now through centuries of cultivation common throughout Europe and the United States . The plant does not require good soil; sand and gravel are adequate if there is enough moisture. Often it is the first plant to take root along new roads and at construction sites where there has been much earthwork.