Information on Nipplewort

Common Name: Nipplewort
Scientific Name: Lapsana communis
Irish Name: Duilleog Bhríde
Family Group: Asteraceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Nipplewort is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

Found growing throughout Europe and classed as a garden weed by many, this little wildflower, so easily overlooked, is quite pretty when examined closely.  It's of medium height, has spindly, wiry stems and very small 10-20mm dandelion-like flowers which open in sunshine only, from May to October.  The flowers are borne in loose panicles.  The upper leaves, which are edible, are lanceolate and toothed, while the lower leaves are more oval-shaped.  This plant produces large amounts of hairless achenes.  It is a native plant and belongs to the family Asteraceae.  

I first identified this little plant in my own garden in Dalkey, Co Dublin in 1970 and photographed it in Gibletstown, Co Wexford in 2005.   

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

The flower buds of Nipplewort were thought to resemble nipples.  It was therefore expected that its use would help to heal sore nipples.  This theory was known as 'The Doctrine of Signatures'.

Briefly, 'The Doctrine of Signatures' came into medicine in the sixteenth century and held that God marked everything he created with some form of sign which would help to direct healers towards finding their cures for ailments.  So, when one looked at this plant, one saw nipples and applied the doctrine.  Many plants which have 'wort' as part of their name would have acquired the name as a result of this doctrine, plants such as Liverwort, Bladderwort, Lungwort would fall into this category. The word 'wort' comes from the Old English 'wyrt' for root or herb.