©Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

Teasel in frost

teasel by Amy Lewis


Scientific name: Dipsacus fullonum
The brown, oval, spiky seed heads of the teasel are a familiar sight in all kinds of habitats, from grassland to waste ground. They are visited by goldfinches and other birds, so make good garden plants.

Species information


Height: up to 2m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The teasel is probably best-known for its brown, prickly stems and conical seed heads, which persist long after the plants themselves have died back for the winter. Between July and August, when teasels are in flower, the spiky flower heads are mostly green with rings of purple flowers. Found in damp grassland and field edges, or on disturbed ground, such as roadside verges and waste grounds, they are visited by bees when in flower, and birds when seeding.

How to identify

The teasel is a tall plant, often reaching the height of a person. They have thorns all the way up their stems and a cone-like flower head that gives the plant the impression of an oversized cottonbud. The flowers are tiny and purple, clustering together and appearing in rings up and down the flower head; the familiar seed heads turn brown in winter.


Mainly found in England, scattered distribution elsewhere in the UK.

Did you know?

The seeds of the teasel are very important for birds, such as the goldfinch, which can often be seen alighting on the old, brown flower heads in autumn to 'tease' the seeds from them.