Agriculture, Gardening, Native Prairie, Perennial Plants, Perennial Wildflowers, Uncategorized, Wildflower, Wildflowers

Mother Nature’s Own Hitchhikers

Mother Nature has designed several modes of transportation for her native plants.  I’m sure most of people are familiar with some of her tactics.  Sometimes it is not a pleasant experience for human beings.  These hitchhikers can stick to you like Velcro or stick into you like needles.
Have you ever walked through a wetland or marshy area?  If you have and if you weren’t watching where you were going, you may have encountered some Beggar Ticks and not noticed them all over your clothing until it was too late.  When your clothing or an animal brushes against the mature seed heads of Beggar Ticks, the individual seeds attach themselves to them by prongs much like a fork.  Some have two while others have 4 prongs.  Once attached, they are in motion to their new resting spot by you or an animal transporting them free of charge to their destination.  Some of the Beggar Ticks may come off your clothing by you brushing up against other vegetation and just knocking the clinging seeds off to fall willy-nilly wherever they may.  If they happen to get picked off or fall off in a wet area, they are vey happy because they can sprout again and secure their existence another year.  In the spring, the seeds will germinate given the proper moist conditions.  If they happen to travel home with you and you decide to pick them off before going into your house, they may fall onto your lawn.  In most cases, this would not be a place where Beggar Ticks could survive because it would be too dry not to mention getting mowed down even if they did.

The next time you are out walking in the summer near a stream or in a wetland, be on the lookout for a plant with many pretty yellow flowers.   It will probably be in the genus of Bidens or Beggar Ticks or Bur Marigold as they are commonly called.  As fall approaches the pretty yellow flowers turn into one of nature’s best-designed hitchhikers.

Beggars Tick Flower 

Mother Natures Native Hitchhiker

Native Hitchhiker

Beggars Tick Flower

Earthyman aka Howard Bright
www.ionxchange.com
1/12/11

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About Earthyman

Howard Bright is the owner of Ion Exchange Inc. A Native Seed and Plant Nursery and The Natural Gait in NE Iowa. Howard loves to write of his experiences in both prose and poetry. His love of the natural world we live in and a lifestyle built around that love of nature shows in all he does.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Mother Nature’s Own Hitchhikers

  1. The so-called beggar’s ticks that we have in central Texas are an invasive species in the carrot family, Torilis arvensis. It’s unfortunately quite common, and I rarely come home from a walk through the fields without some (or many) or its seeds stuck to my shoelaces and socks.

    Steve Schwartzman
    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com

    Posted by Steve Schwartzman | August 27, 2011, 11:45 am
    • Here’s an interesting species for Texas known as a beggar’s tick.

      Bidens Bigelovii: Infusion of the flowering tops was used as a beverage in Texas.

      MEDICINAL USES:
      < Expectorant, pectoral, emmenagogue.
      Has been used in Chinese medicine for bug bites, diarrhea, snakebite.
      Uses in Folk Medicine have included appendicitis, debility, diarrhea, dysuria, earache, furunculosis, gravel, hemorrhage, hypertension, jaundice, laryngitis, rheumatism, and tabes; has also been used as a female aphrodisiac and emmenagogue.
      Leaf tea was used by the Cherokee to expel worms.
      Leaves were chewed for sore throat.
      The juice was once used as eardrops and as a styptic (Caution: May be an irritant).

      OTHER USES:
      Has been eaten as a potherb and used as a tea substitute.

      Posted by Earthyman | August 27, 2011, 12:14 pm
      • I looked up that species and found it doesn’t grow anywhere near central Texas (this is a big state!). Perhaps I’ll see it the next time I go to Big Bend and vicinity.

        Posted by Steve Schwartzman | August 27, 2011, 12:38 pm

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