Dipsacus fullonum Linnaeus, 1753
Common names: Wild Teasel [En], Cardère sauvage, Cabaret des oiseaux, Lavoir-de-Venus, Peigne-à-Loup [Fr], Grote kaardebol [Nl], Wilde Karde [De], Cardo dei lanaioli, Scardaccione selvatico [It], Cardencha, Cardo de cardador [Es], Δίψακος, Νεράγκαθο, Διψάκος ή γνάφος [Gr], Tarakotu, Çobantaragı [Tu]
Hamoir, LIEGE ● Belgium
Etymology: Dipsacus comes from Greek διψαώ [dipsao], to be thirsty. The Romans called the plant ‘Lavacrum veneris’, meaning the basin of Venus, as these stem leaves are joined at the base, forming rainwater-collecting cups surrounding the stem.
Teasels earn their name as the spiky flower heads were used to comb woollen cloth, to ‘tease’ out the fibres prior to spinning (from the Old English teasan, meaning to tease). The heads of fuller’s teasel (D. sativus) have curved spines; they were also used to raise the pile, or ‘nap’ of cloth.
Description: Flower head length: 5 – 8 cm. Stem length: 50 – 150 cm.
Wild teasel is a tall and rather statuesque plant, with a deeply angled and furrowed stem. The leaves at the base of this stem form a rosette, whereas those occurring on the stem are arranged in pairs. The tube-like flowers are purplish-rose in colour, and are protected by the spines.
Biology : Wild teasel is a biennial plant that grows from a stout, yellow tap-root. Flowers are present from July to August, and are pollinated by various bees and long-tongued flies. It is known to catch invertebrates in its water filled leaf bases, but experimental testing of reproductive benefits of this have been lacking. A study has show that addition of dead dipteran larvae to leaf bases caused a 30% increase in seed set and the seed mass. This study provides the first empirical evidence for reproductive benefit from carnivory in Dipsacus fullonum.
Habitat: rough grasslands, hedgerows, thickets, road verges, and waste ground
Distribution: Central and western Europe, reaching east to central Russia and Turkey. It is also found in North Africa and western Asia.
Clapham A.R., Tutin T.G., and Moore D.M., 1987. Flora of the British Isles- 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Shaw PJA, Shackleton K., 2011. Carnivory in the Teasel Dipsacus fullonum — The Effect of Experimental Feeding on Growth and Seed Set. PLoS ONE 6(3): e17935.