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July 6, 2017

The last thing I will ever claim is that I am a keen gardener, a quick look over my fence will confirm that, but that was before I discovered Dipsacus fullonum.

It’s not just a plant, more of a pet and looks like a wafer thin dancer with a pink headband.
Garden TeaselWriting in Gardeners World, Kate Bradbury describes it as a ‘high-rise tower block providing food, shelter and a hunting ground for a myriad of creatures.
She was extolling the virtues of fuller’s teasel, a plant that remains in the memory of cyclists who fall foul of a clutch and literally land in the middle of a family group.
Pain and trying to get the little rascals off ones clothing and skin being the unforgettable bit.
The multi-use plant serves mankind in a variety of ways; as a decorative emblem in a dried plant display and in particular the textile industry where the spiky bobbly bit on the top was used to tease out the sheared wool by raising the ‘nap’, though quite what it has to do with a card game is beyond me at the moment.
The other less attractive part of life in the teasel household is the bobbly bit crawls with black, red, green and yellow aphids in a farm collective for ants who milk the honeydew off the leaking aphids before they become a meal for the larvae of ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings.
family treeBeing a young aphid in Dipsacus fullonum certainly does not abound in opportunities for advancement or good career moves.
Also the spiky bit attracts bumblebees and butterflies climbing over each other to get to the nectar.
A quick count up would make you think that was enough for any plant, but apparently Dipsacus fullonum enjoys a tasty meal of the little bugs that get trapped between the stem and leaf.
The joint between leaf and stem forms a cup that collects water and any aquatic minded bug going for a swim is likely to end up becoming an essential part of the plant from the inside.
Not that anyone has seen the plant having a good chew of the victim, but observations have revealed that the plant with the most dead insects in their little cups usually have the most flower heads.
It does beg the saying ‘Not a lot of people know that!





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