Teasel Dipsacus fullonum

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See July, August
Colour Purple
Habitat Woodland, Grassland

A favourite in dried flower displays, the teasel is a tall, tough and distinctive wildflower.

As a biennial plant it blooms in its second year, producing tufts of vivid purple (although sometimes white) flowers from its prickly egg-shaped head before it seeds and dies. Opposite prickly leaves join around the prickly stem, catching water.

Distribution

Common in England - especially the south. Much rarer in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Habitat

Open woods, stream banks, roadsides, rough ground, grassland, marginal habitats, railway banks.

Best time to see

Late summer when it flowers - July and August.

Did you know?

The teasel is so called because textile makers used its spiny combs to 'tease' cloth - cleaning it (carding) before spinning and raising the 'nap' or fuzzy surface. It wasn't until the 20th century that they were replaced by metal combs. However, they have proved themselves unsurpassed in finishing cloth that needs a very fine and evenly raised pile such as some hats and on the baize covering used for billiard tables. It is superior because of the small hooked spikes covering the conical flower-heads which have 'give' and bend over irregularities or snags unlike steel brushes which tend to tear through it indiscriminately.

The seeds, which develop inside the flowerheads, attract birds including Goldfinches.

Local names include Barber's brushes, Donkey's thistle, and Venus' basin. The latter refers to the way the leaves join around the stem and hold water and hence also the Roman calling teasel labrum Veneris (lip of Venus).