September 20, 2003

Prickly Tease(L)

Wish I'd snapped this one. Teasel is an old friend, and I remember the first time we met.

Long centuries ago my systematic botany class from Auburn took a field trip to North Georgia to see things you can't see in southern Alabama during a hot summer semester (as everything bakes to clinkers by mid-June, you see). In each car, there was one driver and 3 to 5 botanical rubber-neckers stalking for new specimens to add to our required class collections.

Whoosh! "What was that!?" one of us cried as a tall unknown zoomed past. Screech! Driver slammed on the breaks, and a volunteer (that would be me) jumped out and ran back a few hundred yards along the Georgia secondary highway to fetch the plant for keying. Grabbing it to make a quick getaway, I immediately appreciated the uncuddly nature of the plant. It is covered with short, stout clear spines (as is apparent in this photograph). I let go, quickly. It bites.

I've hoped since early July to get a picture of the teasel patch growing across from the Pilot Post Office; I've seen it every time I've hurried past going somewhere I should have been 15 minutes ago. It is not terribly picturesque and good photographs not easily obtained, requiring just the right lighting to do it justice. I never got the image, so am thankful for this one at North Coast Cafe. I did not know, however, that the little rain-filled basins at the axils of its leaves harbor microcreatures. Some day, when I get the two toys I still really, really need (a microscope and a telescope), I'll go see who lives commensally with my old friend Teasel. Rotifers? Protozoa, certainly. Maybe, oh maybe... Water bears?

Posted by fred1st at September 20, 2003 05:28 AM | TrackBack

In Jean Aul's (spelling looks wrong to me) the Children of the Earth series, the heroine (Ayla) uses the burr of the teasel as a comb. Handle with care!

Posted by: Cop Car at September 20, 2003 08:24 AM

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