Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)

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Teasel
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Teasel fact file

Teasel description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumAnthophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderDipsacales
FamilyDipsacaceae
GenusDipsacus (1)

Teasels earn their name as the spiky flower heads were used to comb woollen cloth, to ‘tease’ out the fibres prior to spinning (from the Old English teasan, meaning to tease) (3) (4). The heads of fuller’s teasel (D. sativus) have curved spines; they were also used to raise the pile, or ‘nap’ of cloth (4). Wild teasel is a tall and rather statuesque plant, with a deeply angled and furrowed stem (2). The leaves at the base of this stem form a rosette, whereas those occurring on the stem are arranged in pairs. The Romans called the plant ‘lavacrum Veneris’, meaning the basin of Venus, as these stem leaves are joined at the base, forming rainwater-collecting cups surrounding the stem (3). The tube-like flowers are purplish-rose in colour, and are protected by the spines (2).

Also known as
brushes, combs.
Size
Flower head length: 5 – 8 cm (2)
Stem length: 50 – 150 cm (2)
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Teasel biology

Wild teasel is a biennial plant that grows from a stout, yellow tap-root(2). Flowers are present from July to August (6), and are pollinated by various bees and long-tongued flies (2). They are well-known for attracting wildlife to gardens (6).

During the eighteenth century, the water collected by the leaves of teasels was thought to remove freckles. It has also been used to soothe sore eyes (4). The roots have been used to treat warts, sores, and other skin problems (6).

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Teasel range

This plant is widespread in Britain south of a line drawn between the Humber to the Severn Estuary. It becomes more scattered in Wales and Cornwall and in the north (2) (5). Elsewhere, this species occurs in central and western Europe, reaching east to central Russia and Turkey. It is also found in North Africa and western Asia (2).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Teasel habitat

Occurs in a wide range of habitats, including rough grasslands, hedgerows, thickets, road verges, and waste ground (5). It thrives in areas where heavy soils have been disturbed (2).

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Teasel status

Not threatened (2).

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Teasel threats

These species are not threatened.

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Teasel conservation

Conservation action is not required for these species.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

For more on British native plants and for details of how to get involved in plant conservation visit the website of Plantlife, the wild plant charity:
www.plantlife.org.uk

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Biennial
A plant that lives for two years and typically flowers only in the second year.
Tap-root
A large central root.
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References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January 2004): http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn
  2. Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G., and Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles- 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Grigson, G. (1996) The Englishman’s Flora. Helicon Publishing, Ltd., Oxford.
  4. Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica. Sinclair-Stevenson, London.
  5. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. and Dines, T.D. (2002) New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Plants for a Future database (January 2004): http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Dipsacus+fullonum
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Teasel  
Teasel

© Niall Benvie / naturepl.com

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United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 117 911 4675
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