‘Where have all the flowers gone?’ you may be asking yourself. Six weeks ago the landscape was covered in blooms—especially grass inflorescences—but now only a few plants are bearing flowers. All that time for pollination and fertilisation has past. The catch cry out there at the moment is ‘Go forth and multiply’. Dispersing the seed is what it is all about.
Plants have a developed several methods for doing this. One way is to ensure that the seed attaches itself to the feathers, fur and socks of birds, animals and humans that pass by. To do this the seeds have developed an amazing array of hooks, barbs and spikes. Bidgee-widgee (Acaena novae-zelandiae), pictured above, is a native herbaceous creeper found in our district. To give the seed the best chance of catching a lift, the seed heads are elevated on stalks. When they are touched by a passing traveller the seed balls disintegrate into separate barbed seeds (pictured above).
The weed Cleavers (Galium aparine) has recently featured in a post (click HERE to view). Its spherical seeds are covered in an array of tiny hooks (pictured left).
Similarly the native Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia spp.) seeds, right, and Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra) seeds, below, also have their ways of attaching themselves to passers-by. Next time you are out walking in the grass check your socks for these hitch-hikers.
When I was younger I used to hitch-hike as well. Copying Mother Nature, instead of using my thumb maybe what I needed was a Velcro suit!