Dipsacus fullonum syn. Dipsacus sylvestris
Herbaceous biennial plant (rarely a short-lived perennial plant) growing to 1–2.5 metres tall with prickly stems and interesting oval flower heads. The first flowers begin opening in a belt around the middle of the flowerhead, and then open sequentially toward the top and bottom, forming two narrow belts as the flowering progresses. Flowers are pale to mid blue and loved by bees. The dried flowerhead lasts well into winter, and the seeds provide a great food source for birds such as finches. The plants make excellent cut flowers, fresh or dried, though do require care when handling.
The genus name is derived from the word for thirst and refers to the cup-like formation made where leaves merge at the stem. Rain water collects here and looks beautiful after a shower! In the past this water was valued as soothing eyewash.
Teasels were formerly widely used in textile processing, providing a natural comb for cleaning, aligning and raising – or teasing – the nap on fabrics, particularly wool. The dried flower heads were attached to spindles, wheels, or cylinders, sometimes called teasel frames. Although they have since been replaced by metal cards, some weavers still prefer use teasels as they don’t have the potential to rip the fabric.
Teasels will happily grow in any sunny spot, not requiring any care or attention, but needing relatively free draining soil – though ours are thriving on sandy clay. The leaves grow huge and we have started chopping them and using them as biomass for mulch.
Certified organic plant. 9cm pot
Flowerhead Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WildTeasel_(Dipsacus_fullonum).jpg
Other photos: Kahikatea Farm