Mittwoch, 17. Oktober 2012

Plant of the Day (October 17th, 2012) - Dipsacus fullonum L.

The last two weeks, I was a little bit busy so there were only one Article per week. But now, I will return to the old rhytm with two new Postings per week. So, today's “Plant of the Day” is Dipsacus fullonum L. from the Caprifoliaceae *). In English, this species is known as “wild teasel” and in German as “Wilde Karde”.

D. fullonum - habitus

Wilde Karde” is a large, herbaceous and biennial plant, which can reach heights between 70 and 200 centimetres (27.6 to 78.7 inches). The stalk grows upright and is very spiky, because it is covered with upright sharp bristles.
The basal leafs are arranged in a rosette, while the foliage leaves follow the decussate leaf pattern. They are lanceolate and have a slightly notched margin (but this doesn't have to be pronounced). The leaf-bases of two opposite leafs are grown together; forming a bag-like structure, which is used to collect rainwater (the name “dipsacus” comes from the word “Dipsa”, which means “thirst” in English. The reason for this that the collected rainwater was drunk by thirsty wanderers and animals).
The bracts are very long and protrudes above the inflorescence significantly.

D. fullosum - on this picture, you can see
the fused leaf-bases

The distinctive inflorescences are terminal heads, which have a cylindrical or conical shaped. Each head consists of many, small flowers with four sepals and petals. The petals are fused to a corolla tube. They have a violet colour.
Flowering time is between July and August. The running of the flowering is pretty interesting, because the flowers in the middle of an inflorescence are the first one, which opens.

D. fullosum - old inflorescence

The ripe fruits are Archenes; similar to the fruits of the Asteraceae. The mechanism of spreading is also nearly the same. The plant throws away its fruits, which remain on fur hanging. Ripening time is between September and October.

D. fullosum - closer look at the same old inflorescence

 D. fullonum is native to Eurasia and North Africa but can also be found as neophyte in North America. It grows on warm and wet places. Such places are wetlands, riverbanks or flood area. However, the species is also very common on ruderal wastelands and roadsides.

D. fullosum - habitus

In ancient time, D. fullonum was used as medicinal plant. Especially the roots were used to cure jaundice and stomach diseases but also to cure stye and warts. However, the more common used of this plant was in weaving. Weavers used the cylindrical inflorescences of D. fullonum in order to roughen wool. 

*) In some literature, the Genus Dipsacus belongs to an own family: the Dipsacaceae. But in other literature, the Dipsacaceae are only a subfamily of the Caprifoliacae called Dipsacoioideae). 

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