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.
Howard Bright (Earthyman)