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Common teasel

(Dipsacus fullonum)

Photo of Common teasel
Photo credit: Bernie Williams

Herbaceous, monocarpic perennial. Grows as a basal rosette for at least one year. Forms a prickly, angled flowering stalk, 2-6’ tall, typically in the second or third year.

Overview

Other names for this plant include:
  • Common names: Fuller's teasel, wild teasel
  • Scientific names: D. fullonum ssp. fullonum; D. fullonum ssp. slyvestris; D. sylvestris
Ecological threat:
  • Invades open areas, prairies, savannas, and sedge meadows, as well as roadsides and disturbed areas.
  • Rapid range expansion of cut-leaved teasel has been observed in several midwestern states.
Overview map of common teasel classification in WI
Restricted (orange) counties

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for common teasel was based upon this literature review [PDF] developed by the department.

Identification

Leaves: Opposite, large (up to 1.5’ long), oblong, and prickly. Leaves of flowering plants join into a cup around the stem. Common teasel’s leaves are not lobed.

Flowers: Hundreds of small flowers, clustered in dense, egg-shaped heads. Stiff, spiny, leaf-like bracts curve up from the base of the flower head. Common teasel has purple flowers and bracts longer than the flower heads. Common blooms from June-October.

Fruits & seeds: Each plant can produce as many as 2,000 seeds. Seeds remain viable in the soil for at least 2 years.

Roots: Deep taproot, up to 2’ long and 1” in diameter.

Similar species: Cut-leaved teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus) leaves are broader and have deep, feathering lobes. Its bracts are shorter than the flower heads. The flowers are white and bloom from July-September.

Control

Mechanical: Rosettes can be dug up making sure to remove as much of the root as possible. Mature plants can be cut in full bud stage; the plant will re-sprout but will not flower. Bag and dispose of stems. Late spring burns.

Chemical: Foliar spray with triclopyr, clopyralid, aminopyralid, or metsulfuron before the plant has bolted. Spray rosettes in fall with glyphosate.

For more information on control techniques, visit the Teasels factsheet [exit DNR] by University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Photos

View common teasel pictures in our photo gallery!

Resources

Sources for content:
  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 59-61
  • University of Wisconsin-Extension Weed Science
Links for more information: