Friday, 23 May 2008

The little ankle-grabbers

One of the little annoyances when walking in the bush is the need to avoid Aceana species. The common name is Burr, and there are four species in Victoria - Hairy Sheep's Burr, Sheep's Burr, Bidgee-widgee and Australian Sheep's Burr.

The burrs belong to the Rosaceae family so are related to raspberries, brambles, roses but these little guys are sneaky. They only grow to ankle height - just the right height to grab on to socks, a very worthy substitute for mammal fur for transporting seeds. The burr plants are common along walking tracks so at the end of a walk some time has to be spent sitting down to pull the seeds and burrs out of socks and trousers.

But under a microscope or hand lens the barbs are beautiful, and each of the four species has a distinctive barb shape and pattern. Take the time to have a closer look next time.

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