Proto-Carnivorous Plants
 Galls and Rusts List 

WILD TEASEL

Dipsacus fullonum

Teasel Family [Dipsacaceae]  

month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8lilac
 
inner
inner8green
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ4
 
type
typeZclustered
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8ribbed
 
stem
stem8spines stem8thorns
spines
contact
contactZlowish
 

10th July 2008, Partington Ind Est, Salford. Photo: © RWD
Growing wild on an old industrial estate.


23rd June 2015, Moore Reserve, Runcorn, Cheshire Photo: © RWD
The leaves, which are long-triangular with numerous small teeth on the edge, are in cupped pairs up the stem, alternately at right-angles to each other. They are capable of holding water in a small pool around the stem.


13th Aug 2007, Kiverton Bridge, Chesterfield Canal. Photo: © RWD
Spent flowerheads.


7th Aug 2007, Martin Mere, Nr. Rufford, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are cup-shaped at the base where they join the stem, and in opposite pairs up the stem.


23rd July 2006, Tyldesly Loop Line, Leigh, Lancashire Photo: © RWD
The flowerheads are egg-shaped and covered in straight spines like a pin-cushion. The purple florets, of which there are many, start in a ring around the equator of the flowerhead, and spread upwards and downwards in two rings on opposite 'hemispheres'.


24th June 2006, Narrow Boat Crawl, Midlands. Photo: © RWD
The stems are rigid, fluted, and have a few short thorn-like prickles. The leaves are wide at their base, gradually tapering to a point.


14th July 2007, Barton Swing Aqueduct, Bridgewater Canal, Eccles. Photo: © RWD
An egg-shaped flowerhead, covered in long straight spines. The numerous sepals are long and narrow tapering to a point at the ends. The edges of the sepals have a few short outwardly-curved 'thorns', reminiscent of a sword-fish.


7th July 2005, Helmsby, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The purple florets start deep within the spines at the centre of the flowerhead. The spines, mostly light-green, are tipped slightly purple. Stems are deeply fluted (or is it ribbed) and spiny.


6th Aug 2004, Castletown, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The florets then burst through from the centre and open up in an equatorial ring around the circumference of the flowerhead, short white anthers protruding.


23rd July 2006, Tyldsley Loop Line, Leigh, Lancashire Photo: © RWD
The two ring of florets migrate from the equator to the poles until all are spent, leaving diamond-shaped empty 'tubes' where they once were.


23rd July 2006, Tyldsley Loop Line, Leigh, Lancashire Photo: © RWD
A fully-spent flowerhead, now mostly light green.


23rd June 2015, Moore Reserve, Runcorn, Cheshire Photo: © RWD
Another fully-spent flowerhead, this one later in the season when it has all turned brown.


10th Nov 2019, Test Valley, Hampshire. Photo: © Fiona Hewer
A common occurrence in the dead heads of Wild Teasel (although your Author has never seen this) are the tiny seedlings which sometimes develop in the dead compartments from seeds it has produced but which have not vacated their compartments.


6th June 2007, Paterdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The stem is much more sturdier than that of Small Teasel. Lower part has fewer and shorter spines.


14th July 2007, Barton Swing Aqueduct, Bridgewater Canal, Eccles. Photo: © RWD
Note the water collecting at the base of the leaves.


14th July 2007, Barton Swing Aqueduct, Bridgewater Canal, Eccles. Photo: © RWD
The leaves, which are in opposite pairs, cup the stem allowing water collecting to collect. The underside of the mid-rib of the leaves is spiny in a way similar to those of Prickly Lettuce and Great Lettuce.


1st Sept 2018, Moore Nature Reserve, Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The longer less-crinly leaves are the basal rosette leaves; the others atop those new leaves.


1st Sept 2018, Moore Nature Reserve, Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
New leaves are more crinkly and puckered at first than the basal rosette leaves below them, and with a greater density of spiked pimples.


Date Photo: © Brian Carroll
Teasel is a biennial: in the first year it grows a low basal rosette of leaves. Only in the second year does it burgeon into a much taller and prouder plant producing spectacular flowerheads. This is similar to the way Foxglove, another biennial, behaves.

The leaves arrange themselves on the stems of plants so as not to shade their immediate neighbours too much. They have learnt how to do this aeons ago by only growing in places where they are least subject to self-shadow (by their reaction to light - chlorophyll etc). This 'body plan' has now been fixed into their genes and doesn't now need the action of light and shade to initiate it (but no doubt it is under constant monitoring - and if it drifted back into over-lapping its leaves through loss of any of these genes, it would either be able to right itself again (by its response to lack of light and natural selection) - or be lost forever, extinct).



25th April 2015, Dibbinsdale, Bromborough, Wirral. Photo: © RWD
The first leaves have two rows of curved spiky projections each side of the pale mid-rib


25th April 2015, Dibbinsdale, Bromborough, Wirral. Photo: © RWD
The curved spiked projections are atop raised bumps on the leaf surface.



FASCIATION

 Mutations Menu

July 2008, Headon Hill, Yarmouth, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
You Author thinks that only the flower-head is fasciated, on account of its elongated appearance.

The leaves, which are meant to be in opposing pairs, are not fasciated, but proliferated (into a whorl).

It is possible that this close group of Teasels has been affected by the same affliction, whatever that might be. They could have been sprayed with a herbicide, or it could be physical damage or an infection or infestation of some sort.



PROLIFERATION

 Mutations Menu

July 2008, Headon Hill, Yarmouth, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
The flower heads on this almost recumbent example are a result of proliferation, where some part or other is abnormally replicated elsewhere - in this case not in opposite pairs, but only singly.


July 2008, Headon Hill, Yarmouth, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
The leaves are proliferated on this example - they are usually just in opposite pairs, but here there are many in a whorl (the elongated flowerhead at the summit is as a result of proliferation). The stems are also abnormally robust and thick. It is very likely that the same abnormality in these plants has triggered all these different aberrations.


July 2008, Headon Hill, Yarmouth, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
Proliferation of flower heads (where they are normally in opposite pairs) abounds on this specimen, especially at the summit.


27th June 2015, Knowsley Safari Park, Prescot, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Another example of proliferation in Wild Teasel, this time it is the stem leaves above the normal basal leaves which have proliferated all around the stem instead of being in alternate opposite pairs in quadrature. They are also much narrower than usual.


27th June 2015, Knowsley Safari Park, Prescot, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Not only have the stem leaves proliferated, but so too have the narrow bracts which normally form a ring around the inflorescence, but here have multiplied all over the flowerhead.



A GALL

 Galls and Rusts Menu

23rd July 2008, Westover Down, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
A gall caused by an unknown insect/lavae.


23rd July 2008, Westover Down, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
It has just made a small hole and occupied the inside of the main stem to lay eggs.


Some similarities to : Spear Thistle flower heads.

Related to: Small Teasel, Cut-Leaved Teasel and Yellow Teasel. which all belong in the same Genus, Dipsacus.

Wild Teasel starts flowering in a band around the middle of the head, which then spreads upwards and downwards, with the middle petals falling out as the flowers progresses up and down. Eventually, all the petals have dropped off leaving a myriad of holes.

A yellow dye can be extracted from this plant.

The birds love the seeds. Spreads rapidly around the same area by bird-dropped seed. Starting from a lowly single plant, the annual gain factor is about 20, but that will quickly saturate as the inner areas become over-crowded, when only at the periphery can further propagation progress. Habitat includes rough grassy or shrubby ground and waste places.

Wild Teasel is an example of a protocarnivorous plant, one which can physically trap insects (in the case of Wild Teasel by the pool of water that gathers at every pair of leaves where they join the main stem. It is not fully carnivorous, lacking the enzymes necessary to dissolve the insects, but relies more on natural decomposition. Although Wild Teasel is fully capable of growing without insects, it has been proved that it produces more seeds with the dead insects in the water-bowls (but does not itself grow taller or more vigorously).

The prickly seed heads, when dried, are used as ornamental decorative flower arrangement.

Wild Teasel hybridises with:

  • Fullers Teasel (Dipsacus sativus) but which only occurs rarely where both parents earlier grew.
  • Cut-Leaved Teasel (Dipsacus lacinatus) which grows taller than Wild Teasel by up to 1m (2m high for Wild Teasel, up to 3m occasionally versus 3m high, up to 4m occasionally for Cut-Leaved Teasel. Its prickles are also less stout than those of Wild Teasel.


  Dipsacus fullonum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Dipsacaceae  

Distribution
family8Teasel family8Dipsacacaea
 BSBI maps
genus8Dipsacus
Dipsacus
(Teasels)

WILD TEASEL

Dipsacus fullonum

Teasel Family [Dipsacaceae]  

WildFlowerFinder Homepage