51º37’15”N, 001º 39’28W”
Probably best known for its spiky stems and its brown oval seed heads,they grow up to 2 metres high and are much loved by goldfinches, as a food source through the winter. Finches can be seen landing on the teasels and ‘teasing’ the seeds out which is most likely where they got their name.
These plants prefer a soil that is poor in quality, hence are common on building sites and waste land. Once established the plants are hard to remove as they appear to be endlessly adaptable, tolerating salinity, and even being partially carnivorous. The cup-like leaf bases form pools of rainwater in which insects and invertebrates drown and are digested by the plant.
They have been used since time began to card wool and, during the nineteenth century, were used in Woollen Mills to brush woven fabrics to raise the nap.
The famous Beatrix Potter character, Mrs Tiggy Winkle, was originally going to be called Mrs Teasel but the publishers, Frederick Warne and Co, asked that it be changed as they felt it sounded a bit prim, and so Miss Potter came up with the alternative which was a name she had given to a pet hedgehog she had as a child.