This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(to thirst, from the Greek, because the bases of the connate leaves in some species hold water). Dipsacaceae. Teasel. Stout tall biennial or perennial herbs of the Old World, two or three of which are weeds; and one of them is cultivated for fuller's teasels.
The plants are prickly or rough-hairy: leaves opposite, entire, toothed or pinnatifid: flowers small and in dense heads, like those of compositous plants, but the anthers are not united (or syngenesious) as they are in the Compositae, blue or lilac; involucre-bracts and scales of receptacle sharp or spine-pointed. There are a dozen or more species in Eu., N. Africa to Abyssinia, and Asia. D. sylvestris, Huds., is an introduced weed along roadsides in the northeastern states and Ohio Valley. It is biennial, the stem arising the second year and reaching a height of 5 or 6 ft. It is said to be a good bee plant. Leaves lance-oblong, toothed and more or less prickly on the margin. The dead stiff stalks of this teasel are conspicuous winter objects in the E. U. S., where it has run wild extensively. D. laciniatus, Linn., has been found wild in the U. S.: leaves pinnatifid or bipin-natifid, ciliate. The fuller's teasel, D. fullonum, Linn. (Fig. 1276), is probably derived from the first, and differs from it chiefly in the very strong and hooked floral scales. These scales give the head its value for the teasing or raising the nap on woollen cloth, for which no machinery is so efficient.
This plant is grown commercially in a limited area in Cent. N. Y.; see Cyclo. Amer. Agric, Vol. II, p. 636. L H. b.