Identification & Biology
Alias' : common teasel, wild teasel, Fuller’s teasel, venuscup teasel
Latin Name : Dipsacus fullonum
Category : Terrestrial Plants
Description :
  • Biennial or short-lived perennial  
  • Grows up to 2 m tall 
  • Basal leaves are oval and wrinkled, 15 – 30 cm long, forming a large rosette; these leaves usually die in the second year 
  • Stem leaves are up to 25 cm long and have rigid spines along the underside midrib; they clasp the stem and form “cups” that may hold water  
  • Prickly, highly branched stems  
  • Egg-shaped flowerheads with purple to white flowers blooming in rows starting from the middle and conspicuous prickly bracts 
  • Taproot up to 0.5 m long 


Teasel was historically used in wool “fleecing”, which made it a valued plant in horticulture. This led to its introduction to North America as early as the 1700s. More recently, the distinctive seed heads have become popular in floral arrangements. Teasel spreads by seeds; a single plant can produce more than 2,000 seeds. Seeds can remain viable for up to two years, and may be spread by wind, water, animals, clothing, equipment and vehicles. Teasel starts out as a basal rosette in its first year. In its second year, it blooms from July to September and plants typically die after flowering for the first time. It can also grow as a rosette for more than one season until it builds up enough resources to flower and set seed. 

Common teasel is sometimes confused with two other similar looking introduced species: cutleaf teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus) and cultivated teasel (Dipsacus sativus). Cutleaf teasel differs by its irregularly cut dissected leaves and white flowers. Cultivated teasel differs by the spines at the tips of the flower bracts being shorter, stiffer, and curved backwards making a hook shape. 

Look Alikes

Teasel prefers open, sunny areas and will tolerate a range of wet to dry conditions. It is found in pastures, meadows, disturbed areas and along roadsides. Teasel is distributed throughout BC although is limited in distribution in the Okanagan.  

Impact & Risks
  • Teasel spreads rapidly and forms dense patches that outcompete native vegetation and pastures. 
  • Teasel is too prickly and bitter to be eaten by wildlife or livestock; because it is not palatable, it reduces available forage.
Prevention & Mitigation
  • Maintain your crops and natural lands in a healthy, vigorous condition to ensure a competitive plant community. 
  • Regularly patrol your property for teasel plants and immediately control or remove infestations before seed set.  
  • Cooperate with adjacent landowners and encourage them to prevent teasel spread. 
  • Immediately re-vegetate disturbed, bare soils with a suitable seed mixture that provides dense, early colonization to prevent weed invasion.  
  • Ensure soil, gravel and fill are not contaminated. Do not move contaminated soils to a new area.  
  • Avoid unloading, parking, or storing equipment and vehicles in infested areas.  
  • Take special care when controlling teasel near streams or ditch lines, to prevent the movement of seeds downstream.  
Treatment & Disposal
  • Individual plants can be dug out or hand pulled. 
  • Mechanical control is effective if done correctly. Once flowering stalks form, wait until the flowers start to appear and then cut the plants at ground level with loppers or a sharp shovel. Stalks that are cut prior to flowering may re-sprout and flower again. 
  • Mowing is not effective because plants can re-grow from the root crown if they are cut too high.  
  • If plants are in full bloom or have gone to seed, clip and bag the flower heads, and dispose of them at a landfill. 
  • Burning is not effective. 
  • Chemical control is also an option. Before applying herbicides, read the label for full use and precautionary instructions.  
  • For further information on the selection and application of chemicals to protect your crop, contact AgriService BC at 1-888-221-7141 or email AgriServiceBC@gov.bc.ca.  
  • There are currently no biocontrol agents (natural insect enemies) available for use in BC. 
Okanagan Distribution

Priority Level Definitions

Watch For - Poses a significant threat (very high risk) and does NOT presently occur in the region OR is relatively new to the region and is very limited in extent.
High - High risk/impact; limited population with significant potential to spread in the region.
Medium - Medium risk/impact; limited distribution – broader population distribution with potential to spread further in a region.
Low - Low risk/impact; may be widespread or not, may be of concern in specific situations with certain high values – e.g. specific agriculture crops. Some species may be treated primarily with biological control agents.