Cutleaf teasel plants can grow to over seven feet tall. They have white flowers and their seed heads can persist into the winter. In Minnesota, cutleaf teasel is an early detection species as it is not widespread in the state. Cutleaf teasel is a prohibited noxious weed on the eradicate list so any plants found must be killed.
Cutleaf teasel grows as circular grouping of leaves (rosette) near the ground for one or more years and then sends up a flowering stalk up to seven feet tall. Cutleaf teasel has cylinder shaped flower heads with many small white flowers. The plant dies after setting seed. The stalks and seed heads remain upright and visible over the winter.
Leaves and stem
Cutleaf teasel grows a rosette of leaves near the ground for one or more years. These rosette leaves can have smooth edges and no lobes. The rosette leaves can grow up to 16 inches long and four inches wide. When the plant is ready to flower it puts up a flowering stalk that can grow up to seven feet tall. The leaves on the flowering stalk have many deep lobes extending to the mid-rib of the leaf. Small prickles line the middle of the underside of the leaf. Leaves can be up to 12 inches long. Leaves attach to the stem opposite to one another and form a cup along the stem where they connect. The cup may hold water. The stems are round and have many small prickles.
Cutleaf teasel has a cylindrical flowering head. The flowering head contains many small, white, tubular flowers. There are stiff green bracts under the flowering head. These bracts are shorter in length than the flowering head. Flowers bloom July through September.
Cutleaf teasel stalks and the seed heads can remain upright throughout the winter. Each seed head can produce thousands of seeds.
Cutleaf teasel has a large taproot that can grow up to two feet long. Additionally, there are many fibrous roots.
Cutleaf teasel has a rosette of leaves for one or more years. It then sends up a tall flowering stalk. The plant dies after it has set seed. Plants grow best in full sun, but can live with some shade. Plants grow in a variety of habitats, including prairies, grasslands, pastures, road and railroad rights-of-way, and along waterways.
Origin and spread
Cutleaf teasel is native to Europe and Asia. Teasels were brought to the United States as early as the 1700s for use as garden plants and their seed heads were used by the fabric industry. Cutleaf teasel may also have been introduced accidently in places as seed contaminant in other plantings. Cutleaf teasel seed heads have been used in the cut flower industry. Cutleaf teasel is found in the northeastern United States and in several western states. Cutleaf teasel is an early detection species in Minnesota as it has a limited distribution in the state.
Refer to EDDMapS distribution maps for current distribution.
Don't be fooled by these look-alikes
- Common teasel, Dipsacus fullonum (invasive) – Common teasel has purple flowers while cutleaf teasel has white flowers. For common teasel, the bracts under the flowering head are longer than the flowering head while cutleaf teasel bracts are shorter than the flowering head. Cutleaf teasel leaves are divided and lobed while common teasel leaves are not.
- Bull thistle, Cirsium vulgare (invasive) or other non-native or native thistles – Thistle leaves are alternate (come off the stem one at a time, not opposite one another), the leaves do not form a cup, and leaves and stems can have long spines.
- Cup plant, Silphium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum (native) – Cup plant leaves come together to form a cup like cutleaf teasel does, but cup plant has a square stem, less divided leaves, and has yellow sunflower-like flowers.
- Queen Anne's lace, Daucus carota (invasive) – The seed heads of Queen Anne's lace curl up into a "bird's nest" formation that can look like dried teasel seed heads from a distance. Up close the Queen's Anne's lace seed head has visible thin stalks holding the seeds. Queen Anne's lace has delicate, fern-like leaves and when in flower it has white flowers clustered in a flat, umbrella-shaped formation.
- Regulatory classification
This species is a Minnesota Department of Agriculture Prohibited Noxious Weed on the Eradicate List meaning that the above and belowground parts of the plant must be destroyed. Additionally no transportation, propagation, or sale is allowed.
- Threat to Minnesota
Cutleaf teasel can form dense stands that outcompete native species in prairies, grasslands, pastures, road and railroad rights-of-way, and along waterways. This can reduce species diversity, wildlife habitat, and forage availability.
- What you should do
One way that invasive plant seeds and fragments can spread is in soil. Sometimes plants are planted purposefully. You can prevent the spread of invasive plants.
PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks
- REMOVE plants, animals and mud from boots, gear, pets and vehicles.
- CLEAN your gear before entering and leaving the recreation site.
- STAY on designated roads and trails.
- PLANT non-invasive species.
- Native substitutes
- Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum)
- Culver's root (Veronicastrum virginicum)
- Giant blue hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
- White prairie clover (Dalea candida var. candida)
- Control methods
Mechanical control can be done by pulling the plant by hand or with equipment such as a shovel. Plants have large taproots that should be removed. View the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's noxious weed disposal information for guidance on what to do with the pulled plants. Mowing frequently can reduce the size of plants and reduce flower and seed production. However, plants can resprout and flower on short stalks, so monitor to remove flowering plants by other means. Mowing does not kill plants and can result in spread of seeds.
Herbicide control can be done using systemic herbicides that are taken up by plants and move within the plant, which can kill leaves, stems, and roots. Apply glyphosate or triclopyr herbicides to the rosette stage of the teasel plants. Apply herbicides to the rosettes in the early summer (May to early July) or in the fall (mid-September to the end of October).
Report new occurrences by submitting a report through EDDMapS, emailing Report a Pest, calling Report a Pest (1-888-545-6684), or contacting your local county agricultural inspector
- Identification and management of cutleaf teasel (Minnesota Department of Agriculture)
- Video on identification of cutleaf and common teasel (University of Wisconsin Extension
- Identification and management of Minnesota Noxious Weeds (Minnesota Department of Transportation)
- Identification and management of cutleaf teasel (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
- Management recommendations (Midwest Invasive Plant Network Plant Control Database)
- Identification training module for cutleaf teasel (Midwest Invasive Species Information Network)