Dipsacus fullonum L.

Common Teasel


CC = *
CW = 3
MOC = 29

© SRTurner

Family - Dipsacaceae

Habit - Biennial forb.

Stems - To +2m tall, from stout taproot, erect, herbaceous, carinate, with flattened straight prickles, branching above or simple.


© DETenaglia

Leaves - Opposite, linear-lanceolate, sessile, to +20cm long, +6cm broad, glabrous, with prickles on midrib (below) and on margins, acute. often basally connate. Basal leaves often drying by anthesis.

Dipsacus_fullonum_leaf.jpg Leaf underside

© SRTurner

Dipsacus_fullonum_leaves.jpg Leaf node

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Dense ovoid pedunculate cluster of many flowers terminating stem. Cluster subtended by ascending bracts to +/-10cm long. Bracts with straight prickles. Each flower subtended and cupped by an awn tipped chaff to +2cm long. Chaff pubescent, green to purple at apex.

Dipsacus_fullonum_inflorescence2.jpg Inflorescence

© SRTurner

Flowers - Corolla lavender at apex, whitish near base, to +1cm long, 4-lobed, dense pubescent on tube portion. Stamens 4, alternating with corolla lobes, adnate near apex of corolla tube, exserted. Filaments glabrous. Style well exserted, glabrous, white. Calyx tubular, 4-angled, 4-lobed, green. Achenes to +5mm long.

Dipsacus_fullonum_flowers.jpg Flowers

© DETenaglia

Dipsacus_fullonum_calyces.jpg Flowers and Calyces

© SRTurner

Flowering - June - October.

Habitat - Fields, thickets, pastures, waste ground, open woods, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Lookalikes - D. laciniatus.

Other info. - This species is located in a number of Missouri counties, which are scattered with little defined geographical pattern. Both it and its sibling D. laciniatus are classified in Missouri as noxious weeds by a 2000 legislative act. The plants have infested roadsides in many areas of the state and threaten to invade natural areas. The plants are easily recognized on sight by their unique flower heads. D. fullonum differs from its lookalike D. laciniatus by usually having lavender rather than white flowers, and leaves which are less deeply lobed. In addition, the involucral bracts of D. fullonum arch upward, rather than spreading outward as in D. laciniatus.

The interesting heads of these plants have often been used in dried flower arrangements and other artistic creations. This practice should be discouraged due to the noxious nature of the source plants. The heads were also formerly used in textile processing, to raise the nap in fulling fabric. This use by textile "fullers" is the origin of the specific epithet fullonum.

Photographs taken off Highway 77 near Partensburg, West Virginia, 7-20-02 (DETenaglia); also in Robertsville, Franklin County, MO, 7-19-2009 and 7-13-2017 (SRTurner).