What Is Common Teasel: Tips For Controlling Teasel Weeds

What Is Common Teasel: Tips For Controlling Teasel Weeds


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By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

What is common teasel? An exotic plant native to Europe, common teasel was introduced to North America by the earliest settlers. It has escaped cultivation and is often found growing in prairies, meadows and savannas, as well as in disturbed areas along creeks, railroads and roadsides across the United States.

Identification of Common Teasel

Common teasel is a tall plant that can reach heights of up to 7 feet (2m.) at maturity. The plant develops a prickly, ground-hugging basal rosette the first year. Spiny, green, egg-shaped flower heads appear atop long stems the second year, eventually morphing into tight cylinders of tiny lavender blooms.

Teasel blooms are distinctive for the four or five needle-like bracts that grow from the base of the flower head and curve up and around the flower head. The entire plant is prickly and untouchable, including the leaves and stems.

Common Teasel Facts

Common teasel is a highly invasive plant that can choke out desirable native growth and agricultural crops. The plants have stout, 2-foot (.6 m.) taproots that anchor them firmly into the soil. A single plant can produce as many as 40 blooms, each of which can produce more than 800 seeds. The seeds are easily dispersed by water, birds, animals and humans.

Teasel Weed Control

Teasel weed control usually requires a multi-pronged approach. Young rosettes are easy to dig up with a long tool, such as a dandelion digger, but be sure to dig deep enough to get the long taproot. Seedlings can be pulled from moist soil.

The key to controlling teasel weeds is to prevent any mature plants from setting seeds, but mowing isn’t effective because the plant is determined and will develop new flowering stalks if the stalks are cut before the plant blooms. In fact, mowing is actually counterproductive because the new, shorter stems may lay horizontal to the ground where flowers reseed easily, safely below the height of mower blades.

The best way to gain teasel weed control is to remove flowering stalks by hand before seeds are mature. Dispose of the flowering heads in sealed bags to prevent spread. Be persistent because the seeds remain in the soil; controlling teasel weeds may require up to five years or even more.

Large stands of common teasel can be treated with herbicides such as 2,4-D or glyphosate. Apply the chemicals to rosettes in spring or fall. Keep in mind that herbicides can kill other plants on contact, depending on route of application and time of year. Read the label carefully.

Encourage the growth of healthy native plant populations to prevent re-infestation of common teasel.

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What is a weed?

Though there may be a technical definition of what exactly constitutes a weed. In practice, it depends on the opinion of the gardener. Weeds are something growing somewhere that we don’t want it to grow!

Not all weeds are bad. Weeds such as dandelions provide much needed food for our bees and other pollinators. This is especially true early in the season, before other food producing plants are growing.

While a “weed” here and there is not a bad thing, some plants are very aggressive and will take over given the chance. It makes sense to “thin the herd” occasionally – even organic gardeners often do a bit of weeding in their bee friendly garden space.

Still, this wild forms of plant life can be very useful to our foraging honey bees. Bees use nectar to make honey by collecting it from millions of blooming plants.

Stored honey helps the bee colony survive during the cold Winter months. Pollen is important too. Bees need pollen as a protein source to raise new bees.

Many types of weeds provide nectar and/or pollen for hungry pollinators so keep that in mind when landscaping.

If you choose to let some of those weeds grow, that means less work for you too! It’s a win-win for all.


Weed Control for Food Crops and Forages

Weeds in field crops and forages can reduce yields by competing for water, sunlight, and nutrients. Weeds in field crops also lower the quality, increase the risk of disease and insect problems, create harvesting problems, and cause premature stand loss. Some weeds are unpalatable to livestock, or in some cases, poisonous.

Managing weeds is one of the biggest challenges for producers of agronomic crops, forage crops, fruits, and vegetables. You can, however, control them through an integrated weed management approach.

The initial focus of weed management and control should be on cultural practices before chemical weed control. Food crops and forage weed management starts with identification.

Timing is also vital for successful weed management and control. Biennial and perennial weed control are most effective in the fall, before they overwinter. If left until the following year, weed control will be more challenging. It’s essential to monitor and control annual weeds after silage harvest, but it depends on the weeds that you are targeting, as not all annuals set seed at the same time.

The methods of weed management and control a producer chooses will depend on the type of production system they use. Managing weeds in conservation tillage systems requires a planned approach. Organic producers can use many of the same weed management techniques as those used in conventional systems, but the focus is more on nonchemical control strategies.


Best Vinegar to Use as a Weed Killer

There are several types of store bought vinegar available. It does not occur naturally but is most often produced from the fermentation of grain alcohol (ethanol). In times past, molasses, sugar beets or potatoes were fermented to produce vinegar.

The 2 common types that are widely available are: White Distilled Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar.

White Distilled Vinegar

White Vinegar, also called distilled vinegar, has many uses around the house. It contains between 4 – 7 % acetic acid and 93-96% water .

The acetic acid is what makes it useful as a plant killer. It draws all the moisture out of the plant and this results in plant death.

Higher concentrations are available and these are more effective as weed killers. If you can’t find it locally, look online for stronger vinegar.

However, it must be handled with extreme care to avoid injury. You can also buy prepared natural weed killers that are ready to use.

Vinegar is generally safe to use with caution. It is used in cooking, cleaning and some health regimes White Vinegar is the one that is most often used in homemade weed killer recipes.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is the most popular type. It is a mixture of ACV and water to create a slightly lower acidity for table use.

Pickling strength ACV can go up to 18% acidity – but in general it is less acidic than the White variety. It may work in your weed killing recipe but is not as effective.


The active ingredients in Curtail Weed Killer function as synthetic auxins. This type of herbicide does not kill on contact. Instead, it disrupts the normal release and action of hormones as well as the natural production of plant proteins. This interruption inhibits the growth of the weed, according to the Iowa State University Weed Science.

  • Curtail Weed Killer is an herbicide that exhibits effective control of broadleaf weeds that threaten the vigor of a variety of agricultural areas, including crop and non-croplands and pastures.
  • This herbicide is a selective weed killer as opposed to a non-selective herbicide, like glyphosate, that kills any plant with which it comes into contact.

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