What’s the point of prickles?

Have you ever stood on a prickle? Going barefoot in summer often meant a foot full of bindii prickles where I grew up.

These prickles that are even more painful to stand on.

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Three-corner jacks are very painful if you stand on them.

What good are prickles anyway?

A prickle is attached to a seed which is catching a ride somewhere. The sharp (ouch) pointy bit attaches it to something, usually an animal. If you take a dog for a walk through long grass you might discover a few prickles and other seeds that stick well to dogs and socks.

I found all these different seeds sticking to my socks after a walk in long grass. They’re  full of hooks, darts and bristles.

burr

This is a burr magnified ten times. It’s about the size of a little fingernail. Look at all those tiny hooks. Did you know that velcro was invented by copying the little hooks on burrs? I never knew that before!

And these…

arrowhead seed

These little arrowheads aren’t so sharp, but look at all those little bristles that can get stuck on socks and fur. This is taken with a 10x microscope – the arrowhead is about 7 mm or 5/12 inch long.

And this…

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…this photo is life-size.

I’ll bet where you live there are different types of prickles and other things that can stick to your clothes.

PHOTO ATTRIBUTIONS

Three corner jack (Emex australis): Julia Scher, Federal Noxious Weeds Disseminules, USDA APHIS ITP, Bugwood.org
Creative Commons License   licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.