Natural Velcro

16 August 2018 | Posted in Barry Yates , Rye Harbour , Plants
Natural Velcro

Lesser Burdock is a tall plant of the daisy family that has flowers with hooks (or burrs) and leaves that resemble large dock leaves. You will be familiar with it being so difficult to remove the round seedheads from socks and jumpers in late summer.

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In the 1940s a Swiss inventor noticed the burrs attached to his dogs fur by their system of sharp hooks and some years later this observation led to the development of velcro, Some languages use the same name for Burdock and velcro. It has some amusing common names such as Batchelors Buttons and Sticklebacks, and several children's games involved throwing them at woolly jumpers. In Edinburgh the "Burry Man" festival is centred about a man being totally covered by the burrs.

 Do you remember the drink of Dandelion and Burdock? Other cultures use the root for food.   More information here.

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It flowers from July to October and provides a good late supply of pollen and nectar for bees and other insects. The burrs are the hooked bracts of the flowers and so present before the seeds develop, they enable the seeds to disperse long distances on the fur of animals and on our clothing. 

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