Saturday, September 25, 2010

If They're Not Goat Heads, What Are They?

When we last met here at the Easily Distracted Blog, I was profoundly expounding on the freaky-looking weeds in my back yard that I did not know the name of. As it turns out, I did know the name (Goat Heads) , I was just using it to refer to a different plant, these bastards:

I know these look kind of like regular crabgrass from the first picture, and they are clearly related to crabgrass, but these are crabgrass with deadly spikey seeds coming off of the ends in clusters.

You can see from the branching of the blades and the root structure how much they look like normal crabgrass. The first time you bend down and attempt to yank one of these out of the ground you will think it's crabgrass, until you grab hold of it and get a whole palm-full of spikes in your hand. Check out the ends with the seeds themselves.
(Okay, also check out my awesome nails. I feel like I painted them with a flannel suit.) Each individual seed has (I think) 12 spikes coming out of it, and the seeds pop off one at a time and will lodge themselves into just about anything. The little spikes seem to have barbs on them, as they are difficult to get back out once they are stuck in your skin. After removal, the skin is irritated for a little while. I can only say that's true for humans, my dogs, once they stand there and refuse to move until I risk my own safety and pull them out, seem to get over it pretty quickly. As a further side note, Cassie, the Aussie Shepherd, won some serious respect from me the first time I saw her walk through a patch of it. Let's face it, she's walking Velcro, so ten or so of them lodged in the spaces between her toes as soon as she stepped near them. She sat down, turned that paw over and chewed each sticker out with her teeth and spit them out. It was like some old war movie where the hero chews the bullet out of his own flesh and spits it out like he's John Wayne or something.
As summer goes on, the older seeds dry into little brown, hard versions of the same thing, which is when they become truly indestructible and can lodge themselves in your flesh with wood-splinter-like tenacity. Even after the spikes break off (like after they've punctured your bicycle tire) the core of the seed is still rock hard, getting lodged in tire and shoe tread grooves everywhere, thus furthering they're dissemination throughout the Westside of Albuquerque. I'm not sure why these haven't completely taken over the world yet, as they seem to come back all up and down our street with the slightest rain. If any of my Southwest-savvy readers have any idea what these are called, I'd love to know. Now that I know what a goat head really is, I have discovered that there's actually a fairly specific weevil that eats them. I'd love to know what, short of Godzilla, eats these.


averilpam said...

eek, I don't think we have those over here (UK), I've certainly never come across anything like it - truly nasty!

Julie D'Arcy said...

You ain't kidding! I shouldn't think you would have those in the UK, I've never even seen them across town! They must have a very specific climatology.

The Dro said...

Spiny burrgrass?