Teasel

©Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

Teasel

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

Statistics

Height: up to 2m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

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.

Distribution

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.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started, at www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk.