Along with the clumps of scotch broom down by the river, I have been trying to control another weed. These teazles are about eight feet high and even at this dried and dormant state, are still too prickly to touch without heavy gloves.I looked up teazles and found that their name is Fuller’s Thistle and that they really do have a use( as taken from, A Modern Herbal webpage)
But the principal use of the Teazle, dating from long before Gerard’s time, still remains unchallenged, and that is for wool ‘fleecing,’ or raising the nap on woollen cloth. The cultivated variety, D. Fullonum, Gerard’s ‘tame Teasell’ is used, because, as already mentioned, its spines are crooked, not straight. These heads are fixed on the rim of a wheel, or on a cylinder, which is made to revolve against the surface of the cloth to be ‘fleeced,’ thus raising the nap. No machine has yet been invented which can compete with the Teazle in its combined rigidity and elasticity. Its great utility is that while raising the nap, it will yet break at any serious obstruction, whereas all metallic substances in such a case would cause the cloth to yield first and tear the material.
Did I mention they have barbs? Not just on the foliage, but on the stalks and the seed pod itself with its hooked barbs. I know of no animal that would mess with these brutes.
Since I had not taken care of these aggressive weeds before they went to seed, I will be needing to be more vigilant to destroy the small plants before they get to this stage.
When the weeds are first getting established in the fall or early spring, they look like a bull thistle except for the leaves have little bumps on them.
On the bumps are small barbs, trying to pull out even a small plant required gloves. The plant gets bushy and about a foot tall before sending out the tall stalks that the seed pods grow on.
I made the mistake once by cutting the stalks just as they were forming the seed pods with the idea that without the pods, they would not be able to send forth more plants. The cuttings did eliminate the original pods, but it put each plant into overdrive and they branched out and produce many more seed pods that were able to produce a million more seeds than the original plants.