Teasel-Dipsacus Fullonum

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As a child, I was drawn to the prickly dried pods of this non native wildflower.

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As an adult, I was drawn to the use of the prickly dried seed pods as a comb in the book, Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel.

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As a gardener, I am drawn to the strong, upright architectural form of the summer green plant.

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As a pollinator lover, I am drawn to how the bees are themselves drawn to the lavender flowers.

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As a decorator, I am drawn to the natural beauty of a pitcher of the dried stalks.

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As an optimist, I am hoping this is another teasel plant that will again grace the garden, drawing us in.

Some facts:

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Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum, known as Fuller’s teasel is considered an invasive weed in much the US. It is native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. In my dry, sloping garden, countless seed sowings from gatherings along the roadsides have produced one plant in twelve years. It is hoped the rosette of another is growing now in the gravel garden. Fuller’s teasel was used to raise the nap of textile’s, usually wool before being replaced by metal cards. It was introduced to the Americas during it’s use in the textile industry. There have been medicinal uses of teasel, as well.

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Handling teasel is best done with heavy gloves, every part of the plant is prickly to the point of piercing human skin. I can attest to that. Teasel is hardy to zone 5 and can grow to six feet where happy, meaning in moist soil. It grew to three feet at most in my dry garden. The plant is said to be biennial, forming low growing leaves the first year, followed the next by a flowering stalk. After setting seed, the plant dies.

Wildflowers, natives or not are honored on the fourth Wednesday of each month by my friend Gail of Clay and Limestone. Hurry over and check out other posts on the topic. Previous posts here at Fairegarden can be found under the category of Wildflowers on the sidebar.


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15 Responses to Teasel-Dipsacus Fullonum

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Teasel has just made it’s way into my area the past few years. I used to admire it as it grew in Ann Arbor, MI. It can be a thug if the conditions are right. I have never had it in my garden. It is structurally beautiful. My DB has made various little creatures from the dried heads. It is a fun plant in any way you look at it. Might as well think of it as a native because it won’t be going anyplace. It is here to stay.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for visiting. Yes, the teasel is here to stay, love it or hate it. I happen to love it, as do the bees. It can crowd out natives in certain wet areas, but so can many other exotics.

  2. Beautiful photos! Teasels are interesting all year so should be in everyone’s gardens.

    Hi Green Bench, thanks for visiting. Since the teasels are native to you part of the world, they should definitely be included in gardens. My garden is not native pure by any means, and I would love to see it always growing here, as well.

  3. Christy says:

    The pictures of the Teasel are so pretty. I’ve had something that looks like that rosette growing, but I always pull them out. Now I’m going to let them grow and see if they are Teasels. I loved the book “Clan of the Cavebear”. How interesting that Teasel was used as the comb.

    Hi Christy, thanks. I used to pull more unknown greenery out, too, but now like to see what the flower looks like. This one was a pleasant surprise, I did not know it was teasel, thought it was a Verbascum. The Auel books got me started on basket making, as well. I love using things from nature.

  4. michaele anderson says:

    That’s quite a title for a post…took a gulp of morning coffee to get my eyes to focus and give pronunciation a try. A first impression from the pictures made me thinkI you had just unearthed a fancier name for the common thistle. Then a closer examination of the flower shape and leaves made me realize that although there is a simiarity, they are decidedly different. Thanks for expanding my knowledge.

    Hi Michaele, thanks for stopping by. I don’t know how to say these names, just how to spell them! HA This plant is so similar to thistle in its prickliness. I had to travel up the interstate to gather these seedheads, it doesn’t grow much around here for some reason.

  5. gail says:

    Ahh, I loved Clan Of The Cave Bear, thanks for the reminder of Ayla’s skill with plants. It’s not in my garden, but I appreciate Teasel’s beauty, structure and pollinator power in yours. Watching bees work those prickly flowers amazes me! Happy gardening and wildflower enjoying. xoxogail

    Hi Gail, that was some series of books, wasn’t it? Ayla’s use of plants was a big draw for me. These books are what started the basket making portion of my craft life. The bees adore the flowers of teasel.

  6. Layanee says:

    I do like its strong structure as well. It would keep the kid’s hands in their pockets after the first touch.

    Hi Layanee, I agree. Teasel is an all around beautiful plant, if prickly to the touch. Heavy gardening gloves protected delicate hands in the photography for this post! HA

  7. commonweeder says:

    So much going on in your garden. I have always been fascinated by teasel ever since I read a book of poems to by children by Walter de la Mare. The Old Woman and Her Weeds has the line – teasel, tansy and meadowsweet . . . I like the idea of teasel although I have never seen it grown and I w ish I had never ever heard of tansy. It has taken over a big section of our field. And the roadsides.

    Hi Pat, thanks for sharing. There is a lot going on here, being a plant collector has its advantages, one never knows what might show up. Funny about the tansy, I grow it here, actually BOUGHT the plants. It has never seeded, but I wish it would!

  8. Alison says:

    I loved Clan of the Cave Bear too. I didn’t remember teasel being used in the books. When I was a kid, I adored the orange daylilies that grow everywhere. My mom was horrified that I loved something she considered a common weed. Now I grow lots of daylilies, but no orange ones. Thanks for this post. There are so many plants that make wonderful seedpods!

    Hi Alison, thanks for sharing that story. The common roadside daylilies are growing in my garden, with over 100 named cultivars. I love them all. As for the books, it was her use of things growing in nature to survive that stuck with me. I took basket making classes to learn the technique to be able to make baskets from my garden, and made many, inspired by those books.

  9. Jason says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen teasel. I’m surprised to hear it germinates with such restraint.

    Thanks for visiting, Jason. Teasel is a thug in wetlands around our area, huge stands of it covered in frost is a thing of great beauty. I didn’t have the camera with me the last time we passed it, sadly. My garden is too dry for it to be happy. The one plant was treasured and I hope there will be more. Funny how that works sometimes.

  10. Sharon Elaine says:

    I am so jealous of your cedar waxwings – I had them in OH but not here in TN. Tell me you photoshopped them in – really tell me your secret.

    HA Sharon, no secrets here, or photo shopping. I wouldn’t even begin to know how to do that. It was a special day and I was very lucky to get those photos and be so close to the multitudes of birds. It has never happened like that again. That is why the banner shot for my blog will not be changed.

  11. sharon says:

    OMG I had these dried ones in a vase fr years…thought they were some kind of thistles…..never knew they were purple I picked them at the Erie canal area Ohio

    Hi Sharon, thanks for visiting. I did not know what they were until we first moved to Tennessee and say great stands of them near creeks in sunny waste areas. I always admired them and was thrilled when someone told me they were teasel, remembering the Cave Bear books. I painted them gold one time and used them as Christmas decorations.

  12. Sounds like you don’t have to worry about it being invasive in your locale. And it has so much going for it! Lovely expose on its merits!

    Hi Beth, thanks for visiting. No, this is not invasive at all where I live. Like so many other things that are thuggish elsewhere, they don’t thrive on our well drained slope.

  13. Charlie says:

    Great photos and very interesting background information. I have read Clan of the Cave Bear, but missed the reference. Thanks again for sharing.

    Hi Charlie, thanks. It’s funny how certain things stick in one’s mind and not another’s. Don’t ask me what I had for dinner last week, though. HA

  14. It has been a long time since I read ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’… don’t remember details. Teasel is a very cool plant.

    Hi Janet, thanks for joining in. I seem to be the only person who remembered about the teasel in that story. There were a few other things going on. HA

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