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Lapsana communis L.


KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderAsteralesFlowering plants with a central disk flower and surrounding petals, like daisies
FamilyAsteraceaeThe aster family, which also includes daisies and sunflowers; from the Greek ἀστήρ, “star,” for the star-shaped flowers
GenusLapsanaDioscorides used this name for “wild mustard,” though this is not related to mustards
SpeciescommunisLatin for “common, general”

About plant names...

Nipplewort is native to Europe, from Britain and Scandinavia to North Africa and western and central Asia.

Identification: Plants are 6-60" (15-152 cm) in height, either hairy or hairless. A stiff major stem is often reddish and somewhat ridged. Leaves are oval or round, ⅜-6" (1-15 cm) × ⅜-2½" (1-7 cm). Each leaf has a large roughly triangular (deltate) lobe at the end, often with two smaller side lobes at the base that vaguely resemble nipples, hence the common name. Lower leaves also have a long petiole that is slightly winged and hairy. They flower from April to September. Flowers occur in panicles of 5-25, rarely as high as 100, each flower ¼-½" (6.3-12 mm) across, with 18-20 pale yellow rays. Though similar in appearance to hawkweed flowers, they are somewhat paler and, instead of dense dandelion-like centers, the centers look significantly different.

Nipplewort looks superficially similar to hawkweeds. See this hawkweed comparison table for details.

Medical: The milky latex exuded from cut stems and leaves is said to be soothing to the skin, specifically to nipples of nursing mothers.

Online References:

Illinois Wildflowers

Forest and Kim Starr’s Starr Environmental site

The University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium

Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

The New England Wildflower Society’s GoBotany site


The Jepson Manual



Clemants, Steven; Gracie, Carol, Wildflowers in the Field and Forest, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 162

Lapsana communis (nipplewort)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm) ID is uncertain


Lapsana communis description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Lapsana communis (nipplewort)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm) ID is uncertain

Lapsana communis (nipplewort)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm) ID is uncertain

Lapsana communis (nipplewort)

9/20/2009 · Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm) ID is uncertain

Lapsana communis (nipplewort)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm) ID is uncertain


About this map...