Department of Natural Resources
common teasel Dipsacus sylvestris
is native to Europe. It was introduced to North America possibly as early
as the 1700's. Common teasel may have been introduced with other teasel
species or accidentally with other plant material from Europe.
grows as a basal rosette of leaves for a minimum of one year, then sends
up a flowering stalk and dies after flowering. During the rosette stage,
leaves are oval or oblong. Leaves may be "hairy" in older rosettes.
Common teasel blooms from June through October. Flowering plants have
large, oblong, opposite, sessile leaves that form cups (the cups may hold
water) and are prickly. Stems also are prickly. Teasel's unique flower
head makes the plant easy to identify when blooming. Flowers are small
and packed into dense, oval-shaped heads at the tip of the flowering stems.
Common teasel usually has purple flowers. Flowering stems may reach six
to seven feet in height. A single teasel plant can produce more than 2,000
seeds. Teasel grows in open sunny habitats. It sometimes occurs in high
quality prairies, savannas, seeps and sedge meadows, though roadsides,
dumps and heavily disturbed areas are its most common habitats.
spread rapidly in the last 20 to 30 years. This rapid range expansion
probably was aided by construction of the interstate highway system. Teasel
has colonized many areas along interstates. Common teasel sometimes is
used as an ornamental plant, and the dried flower heads are often used
in flower arrangements. Both practices have assisted its dispersal. Teasel
occurs widely in northern and central Illinois. It is an aggressive exotic
species that has the capacity to take over prairies and savannas if it
is allowed to become established. Without any natural enemies and without
any control measures, teasel can exclude all native vegetation from an
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