NIPPLEWORT

Lapsana communis

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]  

Flowers:
month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept month8Oct

Pappus: pappusZpossible (short)
pappus8aug pappus8sep pappus8sept pappus8oct pappus8nov

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8yellow
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZmany
(8-15)
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8milkysap stem8milkylatex
sparse

18th July 2007, Macclesfield Canal, Macclesfield. Photo: © RWD
Multiply-branched and growing to 1m with a wiry appearance.


25th June 2005, Peak Forest Canal, Strines. Photo: © RWD
It is a leafy plant, the uppermost leaves being narrow lanceolate, intermediate height leaves are wide laceolate, some with blunt fowardly-directed teeth whilst the lowest leaves are nearly oval but tapering to a point, with or without wavy teeth and often with irregular side-lobes.


20th June 2007, Huddersfield Narrow Canal, Diggle. Photo: © RWD


20th June 2007, Huddersfield Narrow Canal, Diggle. Photo: © RWD
The stems are hairy (or at least the lower parts are as here).


24th June 2007, Peak Forest Canal, Furness Vale. Photo: © RWD
Flower stalks are long, narrow and brandomly ranched. Some books say that it is the shape of the un-opened flower buds which resemble a 'nipple' (hence the vernacular name) - but others, such as your Author, have other ideas...


23rd May 2008, Shell Island, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
Stars seem to shine in spaced-out bunches within the sepal tube (which is actually a row of bracts). The flower heads are 10-15mm across.


7th June 2008, canal feeder conduit, Rushton Spencer. Photo: © RWD
The ray florets often look as though there are two sets: a slightly longer outer row, and a slightly shorter inner row with fewer overlaying them.


3rd Sept 2008, Hollingworth Branch, Daisy Nook, Greater M/cr.
Photo: © RWD
Your Authour thinks that Nipplewort derives its name from the nipples within the spent flower going to seed, a very distinctive feature of Nipplewort. They appear to shine as stars within the dark interior of the 'sepal tube', which is a row of bracts which distinctively has eight 'teeth'.


3rd Sept 2008, Hollingworth Branch, Daisy Nook, Greater M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The often straggly bedraggled appearance of the flowers.


18th July 2007, Macclesfield Canal, Macclesfield. Photo: © RWD
Has fewer ray-florets (between 8-15) than most other yellow-flowered plants of the Asteraceae family (except for Wall Lettuce (Mycelis muralis) which has but 5, the fewest of any Asteraceae). The disc-florets are unusually long and splayed out and also very few in number.


18th July 2007, Macclesfield Canal, Macclesfield. Photo: © RWD
The ray florets are widest about 2/3rds of the way out from the centre, and terminating with 5 'teeth' (actually each 'tooth' is a flower). The end is usually wider than the start at the centre of the inflorescence. Each ray floret wraps around a disc floret in the centre, which means that there are an equal number of each.


18th July 2017, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Spent flower 'sepals' or 'bracts' (whatever you want to call them) with seeds now developing within.


18th July 2017, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The sepal/bracts are long and angular; the seeds within reaching up to 1/3rd from the tips. Much shorter irregularly-sized bracts at the base encircle the sepals/bracts.


18th July 2017, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Numbers probably vary, but here 14 pale-yellow long ovoidal seeds develop within. Their cross-section is also oval. At the top are smaller circles of white; it is these which give the impression of 'stars' within the sepal/bract cups when looking down into it.


18th July 2017, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The 'stars' are where the flowers have become detached. The number of seeds reflects the number of ray florets (and of disc florets, for each ray floret wrapped around a disc floret at the point of attachment. The shiny yellow circle is where the ray florets were attached, and the white central area is where the disc florets were attached. These seeds lack parachute hairs; Nipplewort seeds are not spread by the wind.


Some similarities to : Wall Lettuce, but whereas Wall Lettuce has but five well-spaced out pale yellow ray florets (or 'petals'), Nipplewort has about three times as many (although far fewer than most members of the Daisy Family) and which often appear straggly or unkempt.

Distinguishing Feature : An open structure to the plant with well spaced ot branches. The flowers are smaller than most and are pale yellow with fewer 'petals' than is common for the Daisy family.

Confusion: There are two sub-species of Nipplewort; all three have the same common name, Nipplewort:

  • Lapsana comumunis. Annual. Fairly ubiquitous throughout the UK
  • Lapsana comumunis subsp. communis Annual. Half as widespread as above.
  • Lapsana comumunis subsp. intermidia Usually perennial. Quite rare in the UK.
The photographs below do not represent the last subspecies, intermedia. Your Author does not know if the above photos represent both of the more common sib-species, or just one.

Related to: Wall Lettuce

The large-teethed leaves are narrow lanceolate but few at the top, gradually becoming wider and more numerous the lower down they are until at the base the leaves large lobes and the sharp teeth have become blunt bite-marks.


  Lapsana communis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Asteraceae  

Distribution
family8Daisy family8dandelion family8Asteracaea

 BSBI maps
genus8Lapsana
Lapsana
(Nipplewort)

NIPPLEWORT

Lapsana communis

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]  

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