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  Cut-leaved teasel  

Department of Natural Resources

Illinois Exotic Species:
cut-leaved teasel Dipsacus laciniatus

Cut-leaved teasel is native to Europe. It was introduced to North America possibly as early as the 1700's. Cut-leaved teasel may have been introduced with other teasel species or accidentally with other plant material from Europe.

Cut-leaved teasel grows as a basal rosette for at least one year then sends up a flowering stalk and dies after flowering. During the rosette stage leaves are oval to oblong and may be quite "hairy." Cut-leaved teasel blooms from July through September. Flowering plants have large, oblong, opposite, sessile leaves that form cups (the cups may hold water) and are prickly. Stems also are prickly. Teasel's unique flower head makes the plant easy to identify when it is blooming. Flowers are small and packed into dense oval-shaped heads. The heads are located at the tip of the flower stems. Cut-leaved teasel usually has white flowers. Flowering stems may reach six to seven feet in height. A single teasel plant can produce more than 2,000 seeds. Teasel grows in open sunny habitats, ranging from wet to dry conditions. Cut-leaved teasel sometimes occurs in high quality prairies, savannas, seeps and sedge meadows, though roadsides, dumps and heavily disturbed areas are the most common habitats of teasel.

Teasel has spread rapidly in the last 20 to 30 years. This rapid range expansion probably was aided by construction of the interstate highway system. Teasel has colonized many areas along interstates. The use of teasel in flower arrangements has aided its dispersal, too. Teasel occurs widely in northern and central Illinois. Teasel is an aggressive exotic species that has the capacity to take over prairies and savannas if it is allowed to become established.

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