All members of Dipsacaceae in the Bay Area are introduced from Europe. These plants have a dense head of concentrated flowers, each surrounded by bracts. In the Dipsacus species, the bracts protude as tiny spines, producing a cone of sharp spines when the flowers have died off and the heads have dried out.
The calyx of the flowers, which are fused to the pistils, are enclosed in unique funnel-like structures. The pistil forms a single seed dry fruit, which drops from the plant inflorescence as it dries.
On Montara Mountain, we can usually find groups of Dipsacus sativus (Fuller's Teasel) along the old roads.
Flowers: Tiny, pink-rose, 4 lobed, below spiny, down curved bracts that form a dense, prickly flower head.
Blooms: May - September.
Leaves: Oblong and wavy, in a few pairs along stem, forming wells at stem which collect water.
Fruit/Seeds: Small, dark dry fruit below bract.
Location: Grassy trails, old roads throughout the mountain.
Status: Alien - Invasive - Common
450x600 JPEG - 48K
Further description & Comment: Grows 1 - 6 feet tall on stout, spiny stems. The flower head is bright green when first forming, as seen in the image to the left. Note the upward curving spike-like bracts at the base of the inflorescence.
Spreads rapidly along disturbed areas: I watched one area along San Pedro Road in McNee Ranch State Park start with two or three plants about 5 years ago - this year there were over a hundred spread over two hundred yards.
Aside from use in decorative arrangements, the dried heads of D. sativus were used in textile mills to raise the nap on woolen cloth. The flowers of a close relative, D. sylvestris, are used to make a herbal remedy for indegestion and constipation. They have some uses, I guess.
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