A prickly question . . .
July 1, 2008 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Can you identify this type of thistle?

I believe this is what it looks like when green/growing. I've seen stands of these along roads, fencelines, and ditches in the western U.S. If I remember they grow about 3-4-5 feet tall, each spiky flower on an individual stem, which was either leafless or had only very sparse leaves.

I'm pretty sure it's not a field thistle, tall thistle, canada thistle, musk thistle, scotch thistle, bull thistle, milk thistle, sow thistle, globe thistle, syrian thistle, cotton thistle, golden thistle, blessed thistle, star thistle, carline thistle, creeping thistle, cabbage thistle, marsh thistle, fountain thistle, arizona thistle, new mexico thistle, or any of the about a bazillion other photos/descriptions of thistles I've looked at. (It's certainly possible it is some variety of one of those, and I'm just not enough of a botanist to figure it out--but pretty much all of those don't even look close at all.)
posted by flug to Science & Nature (5 answers total)
 
Looks like Fuller's Teasel.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:11 PM on July 1, 2008


Oh that's easy. It's not strictly a thistle at all.

It's a teazle (or teazel, or teasel), genus Dipsacus, once known as Fuller's Thistle.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:11 PM on July 1, 2008


Incidentally, the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon taesan, meaning to tease cloth; the dry heads were once used to raise the nap on woolen cloth. It's a fascinating plant.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:14 PM on July 1, 2008


Yes, it's teasel. There are two teasels you might come across where you live: Common Teasel (much more common) and Cut-leaved Teasel (less common, ruffly leaves). Yeah, they are pretty plants, with lots of neat shapes and symmetry. Unfortunately, they are considered invasive non-native plants across many provinces and states, which means they tend to aggressively spread and crowd out vegetation indigenous to natural ecosystems. Teasel seems to do this particularly well in wetter areas, like along creeks and ditches. Here's more info if you're interested.
posted by onoclea at 2:33 PM on July 1, 2008


My mother and I used to cut the dried teasel flowers (as you've pictured) for flower arrangements. If you do this, ask permission to go on the land and BRING CABLE SHEARS. AND GLOVES.
posted by lleachie at 2:53 PM on July 1, 2008


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