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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Odd Facts About Weeds

The Weed Science Society of America Recently posted some fun facts about weeds, I've added my own thoughts to this but did any of these surprise you?  There were some that I had not learned about!

Odd Facts about Weeds
  •  After a walk, Swiss engineer George de Mestral observed burs from common burdock (Arctium minus) stuck to his wool pants and his dog’s fur. A few years later he patented Velcro, an invention inspired by the weed.   
    • Cleavers or Goosegrass (Gallium Aparine)
    • Another fun plant with a similar sticking ability is: Cleaver or Gallium Aparine which is pictured to the left.  This plant is a little easier to find in some instances, and some of the classes that I have led have really had some fun sticking this plant onto one of their unsuspecting peers.  Cleavers are also very edible (you'll have to attend our upcoming Wild Edible Walks to learn more) and the roots produce dye that was used by Indians.  This plant is known as "weedy or invasive" by many so while i typically err on the side of leave no trace and take only pictures, I will let the eating/picking of invasive plants go...

  •  Scientists have discovered that earthworms contribute to the spread of giant ragweed by systematically collecting and burying its seeds in their burrows.
  • Cows that graze on garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) or other mustard weeds produce milk with a garlic flavor. Similarly, wild garlic (Allium vineale) can “flavor” wheat crops and reduce their market value. It’s NOT the best way to make garlic bread!
    • Garlic Mustard is invasive and another "edible plant" there are some great recipes for garlic mustard pesto--I am actually going to try one this garlic mustard season, I'll let you know how it turns out!! 
  • Ancient Egyptians wrapped their dead in the leaves of the giant reed (Arundo donax), now one of the worst riparian weeds in the U.S.
  • Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium) is said to have helped win a battle. Norsemen came ashore planning to surprise sleeping Scottish forces and removed their boots for a quieter assault. A prickly patch of thistle growing between the two armies is said to have saved the day and became the Scottish National Flower.  
    • This is a great fact that I had not known.  Could you imagine?? I would never want to walk unsuspectingly into a tract of thistles!! 
The complete fact sheet about weeds can be found at:  http://www.wssa.net/WSSA/PressRoom/WSSA-FactSheet.htm

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