Teasel: Dipsacus fullonum
An unmistakable addition to a MeadowMat wild garden, teasel (dipsacus fullonum) really stands out from any other wildflower thanks to its impressive height of around six feet.
This biennial plant spends its first year developing a ring of long pointed leaves that stay close to the ground. In its second year, Teasel are recognised by the green spiny stems and heads that grow in spring and summer. The rich colour of the purple wild flower that grows from the head makes the teasel beautiful to look at and makes a fascinating centrepiece.
Teasel will often remain on show for years after the plant’s life span, drying and turning brown after seeding.
The teasel flowers in the most remarkable way. Around July and August, a ring of tiny purple wild flowers will sprout from the middle of the spiny head before widening out towards the top and bottom. However, as new flowers bloom, the earlier blooms will die away. This results in two separate flower belts climbing towards the top and bottom as the flowers develop.
Teasels to attract wildlife
These flowers are highly favoured by bees and insects. The teasel is highly recommended by the RHS as perfect for pollinators.
The seeds that mature in the autumn also provide a much needed food source for birds such as the goldfinch. This makes them a great border plant for gardens as both a striking plant to look at and as a help to garden wildlife.
Traditional uses for the teasel
The teasel has often found use after its natural cycle in a number of ways. Obviously, the long stems and spiny heads have made perfect additions to ornamental florist arrangements. But the dried teasel heads have also found a use in much less horticultural areas. Fuller’s teasel was cultivated for use as a tool for use in the textile industries. The heads made perfect combs for cleaning, raising and aligning wool and other fabrics, until metal combs largely took over in the 20th century. But there are still some today who prefer the teasel, claiming better results and less damage to cloth in working.
Where to see teasels
A native species to the UK, dipsacus fullonum will often be found in the wild in damp grass lands close to the edge of fields. However, don’t be surprised to find them sprouting along roadsides and wastelands as they make the most of the disturbed ground. Teasel is a hardy plant and will grow in most soils, making them easy to cultivate and care for. They are an ideal part of any wild garden and an important species in the seedmix for Birds and Bees Meadowmat.