Friday, January 7, 2011

Roadside Marvel

 Most likely you have seen Teasel growing in waste places along the road.  Teasel are a year-round roadside attraction for me, especially in the winter, when they are capped with snow.  If you stop to closely examine teasel, you will find yourself in a thorny situation, but you will also find that teasel has some marvelous design features.

Those barbed spines are protecting the seeds until they fall out.  Shake out some seeds into a bowl of water and  you will see those seeds are designed to float as teasel's seed dispersal system.

 All the thorns,barbs,spines and prickles effectively protect the plant from herbivory.
The seed heads were once used for carding wool.
Teasel leaves form a little area around the stem that holds water.  Therein thrives a little ecosystem for us to examine some summer day.

Well, that's plenty to think about as you pass teasel along the road, and plenty of content for today's post.  If you would like more details on teasel,  The Book of Field and Roadside by John Eastman covers the subject nicely.

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