Cockleburs, beggar lice and Spanish needles

Published 9:11am Thursday, January 24, 2013

We were taught in school to recognize and thus avoid poison oak and ivy, but my first inkling that I had encountered it was when the itchy rash appeared! Even after looking at the Google pictures, I don’t think I will spot the beggar lice and Spanish needle weeds in time to avoid them. The big clusters of cockleburs are easy to spot, if you think to look for them. Usually I am too intent on what I am doing to notice until it is too late!

Since I think I don’t have a large infestation of the weeds, I should probably go looking for them and kill them before they make more. But if I am already picking them off my clothes, they are already making more for next year! My lot does not get enough sun through the many trees to make a garden anywhere, but the weeds seem to find a way to prosper.

John Vining at the extension office says there is no such thing as a weed; he says they are just plants that some find “undesirable.” Well, John, a weed by any other name is still a weed, in my book. I did notice that my “weedeater” also “ate” flowers as well, if I let it, so maybe John is right. One man’s weed is another’s wildflower. But does anyone want cockleburs, beggar lice and Spanish needles?

For that matter, what about honeysuckle, kudzu and Tree of Heaven? There was honeysuckle in abundance on Rippy Hill. Papa Rippy ran his farm right out of the Extension office, so when they recommended kudzu to control erosion, he planted it in the big gulley below the house and on the west end of the porch to shade the swing from the afternoon sun. Mama Rippy was enthusiastic about snapping beans and shelling peas in relative comfort of a summer afternoon in the swing.

Not so when she discovered kudzu climbing the trees on the steep hill behind and below her house. At first she pulled the vines down; later she snipped them with her pruning shears. I was glad I had an afternoon job in Tryon because if I went home from school I was drafted into cutting or digging up kudzu. Later we just gave up and turned it back on itself when it arrived at the back yard. Now John has parted company with his predecessors and offers to help you get rid of “invasive species!” Good luck on that.

Editor's Picks

United Methodist Church Response Teams seeking volunteers

As sunshine has returned to our skies, we are getting a better picture of the devastation left behind by the storms across the Carolinas. As the ... Read more