Above, Weeds at a Distance, and Up Close. December 1, 2017
Vernon H. Davis, Horticulturist
The common thistle, dandelion, wild lettuce and many other plants of the Compositae family have seeds to which a part of the flower (calyx) adheres in the form of a down parachute (pappus). The seeds of the common milkweed are provided with a tuft of hairs, which is a direct outgrowth from the seed coat. In the fall of the year the air is full of these little fluffy bodies… In a heavy wind or storm, seeds may be carried many miles in this way. From an old Ohio State University extension bulletin, 1909
By November, the restored prairie that abuts the walking trails in my part of northern Illinois has taken on a forlorn look. The goldenrod and purple asters that brightened the scene in September are long gone.
The landscape looks, well, depressing–everything weedy, and dead. Nature, of course, is still at work, and never so visibly so, as in dispersing seeds for next year’s bloom. By focusing my cell phone camera on some of the “weeds” I encountered on my late fall walks, I garnered some photos of beauty I hadn’t known existed.
My enchantment with these weed seeds prompted me to record “How Weeds Spread” for the 54th volume of the LibriVox Nonfiction Collection.
The cover I designed for this volume features a burr (one of many!) which attached itself to my parka while I engaged in eager photography. How burrs help weeds spread seems self-evident!