After dropping off my car at Wyo Valley Subaru to see about the battery (I’m still gettng free work from them after complaining to the head of Subaru America about getting stuck with a loaner with no gas; still getting free treatment at U. of Penn after complaining to president there about my treatment…is there a common thread here?) it started raining, of course.
Without my car didn’t have all my gear but still had an umbrella and plastic bag for camera so got four decent …pics I think, but not fun juggling umbrella and camera. First, cocklebur or clotbur, an angry looking plant, pictured here. Also saw dittany, burg marigold and climbing false buckwheat. Not bad for 45 minutes and fogged everything.
Cocklebur is herbaceous plant that belongs to the sunflower family. It originates from eastern Asia and North and South America, but it can be found around the world today. Cocklebur grows in the wastelands, along the roads, in the fields, meadows, pastures, near the rivers and streams and in the seasonally flooded areas. It prefers rich soil and areas that provide enough moisture. Cocklebur is classified as weed in most areas outside its native range.
Interesting Cocklebur Facts:
Cocklebur develops erect, hairy stem with numerous branches covered with red spots. Plant can reach 20 to 47 inches in height.
Cocklebur has heart-shaped or broadly ovate leaves. They are toothed or shallowly lobed on the edges and have coarse texture. Leaves are alternately arranged on the branches.
Cocklebur is monoecious plant which means that each plant develops individual male and female flowers. Male flowers are inconspicuous and formed at the tips of terminal branches. Greenish flowers arranged in pairs that grow from the axils of leaves contain female reproductive organs.
Cocklebur blooms from July to October in the northern hemisphere. It requires prolonged night for the successful development of flowers (short-day plant). Cocklebur is designed for the pollination by wind.
Fruit of cocklebur is oval-shaped achene enclosed in bur with hooked spines on the surface. Fruit is divided in two chambers, each filled with one seed.
Hooked spines facilitate dispersal of seed. Animals collect fruit that easily attach to their fur and skin, when they pass near the plant.
Cocklebur propagates only via seed that retains ability to germinate for many years.
Cocklebur is also known as “hitchhiker” because of its ability to travel large distances attached to the body of animals or socks, shoes and cloth of humans. Miniature spines are even able to penetrate through the upper layer of the humans’ skin.
Thickets of cocklebur can be a death trap for small birds (hooks keep them firmly attached to the clusters of spiny fruit).
Consumption of seed and young cockleburs leads to death of pigs, sheep, horses and cattle. Old plants do not contain toxins, but they are not palatable because of the rough texture and bitter taste