Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Gone to seed

It's mid-August, and in our short northern summer, the nights are cool again. Leaves are turning yellow and red; below big maples, brown leaves crackle under my feet. In the sunny meadows and along the shoreline, the rush is on to get next year's seeds into the ground.

Some seeds are welcome:

Wild cherries. The birds will love them, and spread the seeds all around the meadow.

That tiny rabbits-foot clover, still good to look at, with tiny orange seeds on each bit of fluff.

Field pennycress, Thlapsi arvense. The flowers are white, but on some of the plants, the seed pods have turned pink.

Two different plants, both unidentified.

Sea rocket, Cakile edentula. Look good enough to eat.

According to Wikipedia, the leaves of sea rocket are edible. Another one to try.

And some seeds are not so pleasant.

Large-headed sedge, Carex macrocephala. Those spines are hard and sharp, enough to scratch an ankle as I walk past.

And this is the worst I've found this year:

Silver burweed, Ambrosia chamissonis, looking innocent.

These are the male flowers. They line up in clusters on the tall stalks. A bit hairy, always speckled with sand because they're slightly sticky and catch anything blowing in the wind, but otherwise attractive enough.

The female flowers are towards the bottom of the spikes, crowded into leaf bracts, and soon crowned with the growing burrs.

Developing seed packets.

The burrs dry, turn brown and hard, and fall to the ground, where they become invisible and where they soon find a passing sandal and dig in. Those spines are sharp! Several times, I jumped and yelped, feeling as if I'd been bitten by something dire, then hopped to a support, took off my sandal, and had to pull the spines out of my skin. They don't just shake off.

Rabbits frequent this area. I've found their droppings everywhere. I wonder how those spines feel on their tender feet.

Still here.


  1. Reminds me of a trip to Baja years ago. I went into a dune at night to answer the call of nature. I felt something brush my ankle and kicked out. The something bit me hard. When I got back to the light of the campfire I saw a chunk of drying cholla cactus with spine deep in my flesh straddling the strap of my sandal. I've had a strong respect for cholla ever since. - Margy

  2. Cactus can be really nasty stuff.


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