Dipsacus sylvestris - Common teasel

Family Dipsacaceae

Common teasel is not a major weed for Oregon nursery growers.   A native of Europe, it is mostly seen along roadsides and fencerows.  Its generic name, sylvestris, insinuates that it grows in the woods.  However, I rarely see this plant in the woods, and again, more often it is seen in waste areas along roadsides.  Dipsacus is derived from the Greek word 'dipsakos' which means diabetes, and a common symptom of which is thirst (Clark, 1998).  The link between 'thirst' and the plant is apparently the water that sometimes accumulates at the base of the oppositely arranged and jointed leaves.

Teasel is a biennial that reproduces from seed.  Plants initially develop a rosette with prickly leaves.

teasel seedling

teasel rosette

Basal foliage is prickly, especially the midrib on the leaf's underside.

teasel foliage

During the second year, tall stems up to 6 feet in height emerge with a terminal flower head.  Stems are prickly.

teasel stems

Cauline foliage is oppositely arranged, sessile, and linear.

teasel foliage

Flowers occur in terminal heads.

teasel flowers

Individual flowers bloom in a spiral pattern around the egg-shaped flower head.

teasel flowers

Flower heads have large spiny bracts that surround it, sometimes surpassing the flower head in height.

teasel flowers

Individual flowers are lilac to purple in color, tube shaped, and with 4 petals.

Return to the Weed Species Page

Return to the Weed Management Homepage

Email comments to James Altland