Common Teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris)
Common Teasel is a wild plant in the UK and can grow to six feet tall and has a spiny stem and leaves. It flowers between July and October and has hundreds of small purple flowers interspersed with spines on the egg-shaped flower head, opening in bands from the bottom to the top. It is very attractive to insects, especially bees, butterflies and hoverflies.
It also offers drinking water, as rainwater and dew gathers in pools the cup-like formation where the leaves meet the stems. The genus name (Dipsacus) is derived from the word for thirst and refers to this.
The seeds are an important winter food resource for some birds, notably the European Goldfinch.
The name teasel comes from the Old English, taesun, to tease. A 'sub-species' was cultivated from the Common Teasel to form 'Fuller's Teasel', with hooked spines. The Fuller's Teasel (the cultivar D. sativus) was formerly widely used in textile processing, providing a natural comb for cleaning, aligning and raising the nap on fabrics, particularly wool.
Common Teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris) and Cut-leaved Teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus) have both been observed as invasive species in the United States. Common is more widespread, but Cut-Leaved is more aggressive.
I took this photograph in Devon and it was lit by the warm glow of the setting sun.