Common teasel is a biennial forb in the Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle) family (previously in the Dipsacaceae family). It grows in a basal rosette in its first year of growth; in its second year of growth it forms a flowering stalk that can reach up to 6 feet tall. Leaves are long and lanceolate or oblong, and margins are entire. Basal leaves may appear wavy or wrinkled. Sharp spines occur on the stems and midribs of leaves. Common teasel flowers from early summer to fall. Flowers are light purple and appear in dense, spiny, egg-shaped clusters that are 2 or more inches long. It has a deep taproot. Seeds are rectangular, brown, and highly grooved.
Origin and Spread
Common teasel is native to Europe and was likely introduced to North America in the 1700s for its use in the textile industry or as an ornamental. It spreads by seeds dropped or moved from the parent plant. It is found primarily along roadsides, waterways, open areas, and disturbed sites.
Prevention and cultural control strategies should be utilized as much as possible. There are not any biological controls for common teasel currently available.
Because common teasel has a taproot, it can be readily managed by hand pulling or digging out the root. Mowing or chopping may stimulate flower production and should be avoided. Flower heads should be bagged and thrown into the trash.
Larger infestations can be controlled with herbicides. Spring or fall treatments on rosettes are recommended, but treatments on bolting plants can also be effective. Read the label before using any herbicide. Contact TCWP if you have questions about application rates or how to use an herbicide.
- Field Guide for Managing Teasel in the Southwest (2014) USDA.
- Common Teasel Identification and Management (2016) Colorado Department of Agriculture.
- Exotic Species: Common Teasel (2016) National Park Service.
- Management of Invasive Plants in Wisconsin: Teasels (2012) Panke et al. University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension.