Annoying And Inspiring

Closeup of burdock seed pod (photo by Kate St. John)

Look closely at burdock seedpods (Arctium sp.) and you’ll find them covered in tiny hooks.  The hooks arc away from the ball-shaped bur, ready to latch onto a passing animal.

Burdock seed pod (photo by Kate St. John)

They also latch onto us!

Burdock burs stuck to a sweater (photo from the Plant Image Library on Flickr)

But that’s not the end of it.  When we try to remove the bur, it bursts open to release wind borne seeds.

Mature burdock seedpod, burst open (photo by Kate St. John)

Burdock is so annoying that it inspired the invention of Velcro. The man-made hooks are easiest to see after lots of use, shown below.

Learn more about the relationship between burdock and Velcro in this vintage article: Nature’s Velcro.

Closeup of the hooks on well used velcro (photo by Kate St. John)

(photo of burdock burs on a sweater from the Plant Image Library on Flickr; click on the caption to see the original. All other photos by Kate St. John)

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