An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Teasel Flowering

8-8-17 teasel and painted lady 049A2076

Teasel (Dipsacus sp.) is classified as an invasive plant. It was originally brought to North America from Europe and has thrived here. Even though it is considered a noxious weed, this biennial’s form and flower are striking. The first year, Teasel produces a rosette of leaves. The second year the flowering stem can grow to a height of almost eight feet.

Teasel is unique in the way in which it blooms. Flowers first form in a ring around the middle of the head. The ring of flowers grows in width over a few days, but since the flowers are relatively short lived, the center of the booming section may die off leaving two rings, one growing towards the top and one towards the bottom. Several long, leaf-like bracts branch out from the base of the flower and curve upward around the head.

Historically, Teasel’s seed head was used in the textile industry to raise the nap on woolen cloth. Although it is invasive and does crowd out native plants, Teasel redeems itself somewhat by providing insects with nectar and birds with a multitude of seeds (2,000 – 3,000/head). (Photo: Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) on Teasel)

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9 responses

  1. Annie McCleary

    Hi Mary, Have you seen the book Invasive Plant Medicine: The Ecological Benefits and Healing Abilities of Invasives, by Timothy Lee Scott? I find it a grand resource in the very charged area of “invasives”. I prefer the term “opportunistic dispersive”. Thanks for your lovely posts.

    August 8, 2017 at 9:10 am

  2. Peggy Timmerman

    Teasel is a nasty invasive in our area (SW Wisconsin) where it crowds out native prairie plants and makes pastures unusable for livestock. I am watching it come towards my property along the roadways, where it is spread by unknowing county mowing crews.

    August 8, 2017 at 9:13 am

    • Years ago I read an article by someone who wanted to figure out the good things about Mosquitos. Were they an important part of the food chain, etc.? After much digging he said about all he could come up with was they seemed to keep (invasive) humans out of sensitive areas. The Arctic, the jungles, near water, etc.

      It’s disturbing when you see native and diverse plants being crowded out by one species. Esp if it doesn’t seem “useful”. But I always wonder if this too is nature’s way of making land less valuable to humans so they leave it alone to heal. I know that is a tough thought when it’s “your” land and your livelihood.

      August 8, 2017 at 9:39 am

  3. BR

    Thank you, Mary. We are also finding teasel to be helpful in managing lyme disease. Some of our invasives, Japanese Knotweed is another. I am learning more about this as someone who has had to take antibiotics for many years so that I am still alive. My body responds to tinctures with these in it. I began growing teasel that a friend gave me, but it is around a friend’s camp, so know I need to go out to check it this coming week.

    Bless you on many levels. Bern Rose

    August 8, 2017 at 9:16 am

  4. Vance ODonnell

    I have a long standing love/hate relationship with this plant. As a kid I used to love to chew it’s blossoms before they got too old..we called it Injun chewing tobacco…our back forty is all about bird scape and habitat…but we also have hay fields where this plant is not welcomed but does not care how we feel about this…onward towards balance

    August 8, 2017 at 9:45 am

  5. Alice Pratt

    Beautiful photo & Butterfly. So interesting reading everyone’s comments.

    August 8, 2017 at 10:25 am

  6. Pat

    I’ve long been fascinated with teasels, tho I’ve never seen them here — only out west in the wild, and never in flower. Now I’m tempted to try growing them. I came across this interesting post about the use of teasels for carding in the “olden days” —
    with yet more interesting comments. http://blackcatsews.blogspot.com/2013/04/teasels-for-carding-myth.html

    August 8, 2017 at 11:42 am

  7. Pat

    I checked out the link to the Swedish blanket makers who still use teasels to raise the nap on their blankets. There’s a video at http://www.svenskull.se/?page_id=1180. If you skip to minutes 10-11, you will see a woman assembling the teasels. Then, at about 15:36, you see the large machine at work.

    August 8, 2017 at 11:54 am

  8. I had a Painted Lady on my Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) yesterday right outside my window. She stayed for a long time, which afforded me some beautiful views.

    August 8, 2017 at 12:57 pm

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