As we hike in the winter months we see the shapes of plant’s seed heads against the snow this is both interesting and beautiful. Common Teasels (Dipsacus) can be spotted through out New York. Many people gather these seed head in the fall to use as decorations. Sometimes they are left in there natural form sometimes they are spray painted various colors. You can also use them to fashion Teasel animals.
It is interesting to note Teasel are not native, they come from Europe, and can be invasive. They start out as a basal rosette of leaves; they stay in that form for a year or two. Then they flower once; produce the seed heads and then the plant dies. The Plant grows from a deep tap root. The leaves are spiny and where the leaves come together at the stem forms a cup that will hold water the leaf formation. A seed head can produce over 3000sds and they are spread by birds and small mammals. Teasel seed floats so sometimes they are carried long distances by water. Fortunately the seed is not long lived. Teasel is common on sites that have been disturbed, it can form dense stands.
Teasel was used in the textile industry for its use in raising the nap of fabrics but teasel also has some medicinal uses. Water that collects in stem-clasping leaves has been used to soothe eye inflammation.
Teasels are interesting plants and one to note when you are out for hikes. Please be careful not to spread the seed. One of the concerns when building new trails is that non-natives and invasive plants can be spread easily on to newly disturbed sights. It is up to the individual to make sure that we foster a healthy ecologically sound environment.