If you've ever taken a walk through the woods with your pet, then you may have encountered some plants with prickly burs. These stickers are usually the fruit of one of several different types of plants. They have hooked spikes or other mechanisms that help the fruit stick to clothing or the fur of passing animals. These burs were the inspiration for the inventor of Velcro.
The bur clover is a green plant with yellow bunches of flowers that often grows domestically in California and Texas, but it also grows elsewhere throughout North America. The plant is actually a legume and is a food source for some grazing animals. Bur clover survives through the winter and is a source of foraging for deer and other animals. According to the Texas AgriLife Research Extension Center website, the plant causes bloating in livestock.
The burs are hooked tips growing on a spiral-shaped fruit. They often snag in the wool of sheep, making the wool less valuable.
Stickseed is a biennial plant that grows a rosette during the first year and grows into a lanky, limbed plant in the second year. The stickseed stems are covered with white hairs and the 6-inch long oval leaves alternate on short and long branches. White flowers appear in the summer and last for around three months before being replaced by a prickly green fruit. The plant spreads itself by reseeding when the prickly fruit sticks to passing objects and gets dropped elsewhere.
Stickseed often grows along dry woodland borders in medium shade conditions. It is also common in thickets, along fencerows and often grows in wooded areas where there has been a recent fire.
The enchanter's nightshade is not a member of the nightshade plant family. Instead it is a woodland wild flower that typically grows in the northern portions of Europe, North Africa, Siberia, Western Asia, in the Himalayas and in temperate areas of the Americas.
This plant grows in the shadows of thick forests and prefers undisturbed moist areas. The enchanter's nightshade has heart-shaped to oval leaves. It is a flowering plant with white petals, a bright red stigma and a hairy calyx. The plant produces a pear-shaped fruit with hooked bristles on the flower stalks. The plant grows to approximately 1 foot in height. Animals passing by get the fruit hung in their coats to disperse the seed and propagate the plant.
Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.