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Beggar Tick

Posted by Tammy Sons on

Anyone who grew up in a rural area of the United States, especially the eastern United States, has probably at one time or another, while wandering the forests and fields, had a run in with a sticky customer called the beggar tick, or beggar lice plant. Quite a few of us who were children of the countryside have memories of spending long summer hours picking the seeds of these common plants from our clothes.

The beggar tick is an extremely widespread and common plant due to the fact that its seeds are encased in achene burrs which cause the seeds to readily stick to clothing, fur, or feathers, and thus it is a guarantee that the plant will be distributed by practically any animal it comes in contact with. Though walking through a field and coming out with hundreds of tiny black seeds stuck to your clothing can be annoying, the plants are otherwise innocuous and during flowering season can even be considered quite beautiful. Many of the varieties of the beggar tick remain common, yet a few varieties, such as the Estuary beggar tick are endangered. In days past, the beggar tick was considered to be a pest plant and was often destroyed as much as possible, but, with the advent of modern horticultural practices this may be about to change.

In days past, if a person wanted to be thought of a successful gardener they were required to specialize in growing strange and exotic flower varieties. Structured, well spaced garden areas were the norm, and no gardener in their right mind would ever consider planting a nuisance species in their garden. Nowadays, many people are beginning to recognize the fact that species native to the area always grow better than exotic varieties, and can be just as beautiful to behold. Native plant life, whether daffodils, cattails, or even the common and much maligned beggar tick are the best for the gardener, and the environment.

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