Lapsana communis

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Lapsana communis
Scientific classification
L. communis
Binomial name
Lapsana communis

Lapsana communis, the common nipplewort,[2] is a species of flowering plant in the sunflower family. It is native to Europe and southwestern Asia. and widely naturalized in other regions including North America.[3][4][5]


Habitus of full-grown plants

Nipplewort is an annual[6] or perennial herbaceous plant growing to 1–1.2 m (3 ft 3 in–3 ft 11 in) tall, with erect, hairy branching stems and clear (not milky) sap. The leaves are alternate and spirally arranged; the larger leaves at the base of the flowering stem are often pinnate, with a large oval terminal leaflet and one to four small side leaflets, while smaller leaves higher on the stem are simple oval; all leaves have toothed margins. The flowers are yellow, produced in a capitulum 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) diameter, the capitula being numerous in loose clusters at the top of the stem.[7][8] The capitulum is surrounded by a whorl of involucral bracts, the outer ones very small and the inner ones erect, narrow and stiff and all the same length. The eight to fifteen florets are all ligulate[6] and pale yellow, shaped like a tongue with a five-toothed tip. Each has five stamens and a gynoecium composed of two fused carpels. The fruit is a cypsela surrounded by the hardened remains of the involucral bracts. The numerous small seeds are retained in the cypsela until the plant is shaken by the wind or a passing animal.[9] Pappus is absent.[6]

  • Lapsana communis subsp. adenophora (Boiss.) Rech.f. -- Southeast Europe
  • Lapsana communis subsp. alpina (Boiss. & Balansa) P.D.Sell. -- Crimea
  • Lapsana communis subsp. communis—Most of Europe, except the southeast
  • Lapsana communis subsp. grandiflora (M. Bieb.) P.D.Sell. -- Southwest Asia
  • Lapsana communis subsp. intermedia (M. Bieb.) Hayek. -- Southwest Asia, southeast Europe
  • Lapsana communis subsp. pisidica (Boiss. & Heldr.) Rech.f. -- Greece

Cultivation and uses[edit]

The young leaves are edible, and can be used in salads or cooked like spinach.[12] The scientific name comes from Lapsane, an edible herb described by Marcus Terentius Varro of ancient Rome. The English name 'Nipplewort' derives from its closed flower buds[verification needed], which resemble nipples. Because of its resemblance to nipples, under the doctrine of signatures it was once used as treatment for breast ulcers.[13]


Nipplewort is found growing in arable fields, woods, hedges,[6] roadsides, wasteland, hedgerows, woodland margins and clear-felled areas in forests.[9]


Away from its native area, Lapsana communis is common throughout the British Isles,[14] naturalised, and sometimes considered an invasive species, in many areas around the world, including Australia,[15] Chile,[16] New Zealand,[17] Greenland,[18] and most of Canada and the United States.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Plant List Lapsana communis L.
  2. ^ "Lapsana communis". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  3. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, genere Lapsana
  4. ^ Flora of North America, Lapsana communis Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 811. 1753.
  5. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  6. ^ a b c d Parnell, J. and Curtis, Y. 2012 Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  7. ^ a b Flora of Northwestern Europe: Lapsana communis[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2
  9. ^ a b "Nipplewort: Lapsana communis". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
  10. ^ Flora Europaea: [ Lapsana communis]
  11. ^ "Lapsana communis". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  12. ^ Plants for a Future: Lapsana communis.
  13. ^ Parkinson, J. (1640). Theatrum Botanicum; or an Herball of Large Extent.
  14. ^ Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968. Excursion Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0 521 04656 4
  15. ^ Flora of New South Wales: Lapsana communis.
  16. ^ Flora of Chile: Lapsana communis.
  17. ^ Flora of New Zealand: Lapsana communis.
  18. ^ a b Flora of North America: Lapsana communis.