Dipsacaceae / Teasel
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Lore: Teasel was secretly brought to this continent in the early to mid nineteenth century from Europe were it was a guarded crop. The first crops in the U. S. were in upper New York. Later farms were also established in Oregon by a member of the same family that cultivated Teasel in N. Y.
At that time the heads were then used extensively to tease or bring up the nap on woolen fabrics, a process known as "fulling" or "brushing". A woolen blanket that has been brushed is said to be "warm". This brushing of the nap produces air pockets that provide added insulation and a softer surface that is also more resistant to spills and stains. In addition it softens the colors for a pleasing visual effect. By 1956 commercial steel carding cloth had largely replaced Teasel and it was no longer grown commercially in this country. The superior effect produced by Teasel is still valued and used on a small scale for such fine woolen fabrics as cashmere and hand woven items.
Many thanks to Carla Buchheit for providing much of the information on the use of Teasel in the fabric industry. She learned to weave in Finland and now has "Ihana Brushing Service" a fulling business in Overland Park, Kansas where she uses Teasel for brushing hand woven fabric.
Medical Uses: In some Teasels the upper leaves join around the stem forming a cup. The rainwater that collected there was once considered an eyewash and a cosmetic for the face thought to clear the skin. A common name for this Teasel is Venus' Basin. The Greeks thought the root a cleanser that could remove warts. A root tea was once used as a diuretic and to stimulate appetite. There is no scientific evidence to support any medical use.
Similar Species: Dipsacus fullonum L. ssp. Fullonum, Fuller's teasel, is the
species used in fulling.
One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.
This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.
Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves