Ontario Weeds: Teasel

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Similar Species
  9. Related Links

Name: Teasel, Dipsacus sylvestris Huds.,

Other Names: cardère des bois, cardère sylvestre

Family: Teasel Family (Dipsacaceae)

General Description: Perennial, reproducing only by seed.

Photos and Pictures

Teasel (A - plant before flowering; B - mature seed heads).
Teasel (A - plant before flowering; B - mature seed heads).

Teasel. A. First-year plant with rosette leaves.
A. First-year plant with rosette leaves.

B. Top of flowering branch.
B. Top of flowering branch.

Stems & Roots: First-year plants becoming large rosettes, the leaves long, tapering towards both ends, somewhat toothed along the margins, with scattered, stout prickles on the upper surface, especially along the midrib and with each side vein curving forward and joining the next vein above it; stems of second-year plants erect, to 2m (6½ft) high, usually branched near the top, very prickly; stem leaves similar to rosette leaves but smaller, stalkless, broader towards the stem and tapering towards the tip, opposite (2 per node), their bases occasionally united and forming a cup around the stem which may hold a quantity of rainwater.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers in egg-shaped, dense, spiny heads with long, slender, stiff, prickly bracts below the head and numerous, short, stiff bristles within the head; individual flowers small, corolla tubular, 10-15mm (2/5-3/5in.) long, whitish near their bases, pale to deep purplish towards their 4-lobed ends, 3-4mm (1/8-1/6in.) across, with usually 4 stamens protruding from the corolla tube; flower heads maturing into hard, brown, stiff-spined structures that were used for teasing and carding wool (hence the common name); seeds 4-angled, ridged, light brown, about 5mm (1/5in.) long. Flowers from July to September.

Habitat: Teasel occurs throughout southern Ontario in waste areas, meadows, roadsides, and sometimes in cultivated land, usually in moist areas and on coarse soils.

Similar Species: It is distinguished by its large rosette of shiny green leaves with stout prickles on the upper surface, its prickly stems with pairs of opposite leaves often having cup-like bases, its egg-shaped heads of flowers at the ends of stems and branches, these maturing into hard, brown structures completely surrounded by firm, sharp bristles.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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