Day 302 Nature’s Velcro

Day 302 Nature's Velcro by pixygiggles
Day 302 Nature’s Velcro, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

Last night after we got home from the pumpkin patch, Sasha was rooting around in David’s jacket. She found this Cocklebur. We were covered in them and spent most of the hayride back carefully picking them off. Sasha’s reaction to finding this hitchhiker was that of pure curiosity and cautious patting.

After photographing it today, I decided to research this plant a little because I wasn’t even sure what they were called. As a kid I always called them kukuburos. Turns out, I was close; but they’re actually called Cockleburs, Genus Xanthium. I also found it interesting that the Swiss engineer, Georges de Mestral, got his idea for Velcro from a similar plant in the same Family called Burdock.

From Wikipedia, [Source: Strauss, Steven D. (December 2001). The Big Idea: How Business Innovators Get Great Ideas to Market. Kaplan Business. pp. 15-pp.18. ISBN 0-7931-4837-5. Retrieved 2008-05-09.]:

“The idea came to him one day after returning from a hunting trip with his dog in the Alps. He took a close look at the burrs (seeds) of burdock that kept sticking to his clothes and his dog’s fur. He examined them under a microscope, and noted their hundreds of “hooks” that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing, animal fur, or hair.”

I was also surprised to learn that this plant can be poisonous to livestock, even to the point of causing death. Why they would eat it, I have no idea. I can only imagine how painful these things would be to the tongue! Needless to say, this Cocklebur is now in the trash. I didn’t want to take any chances that the cats might accidentally ingest it while playing with it. Even with no direct source to confirm this, I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

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