Photographed by Bette Jackson
If you are have difficulty playing the audio click here
Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. A walk along a weedy path often results in picking up a few hitchhikers: seeds of weeds that depend on animals for their dispersal. Some are among the most successful plants and are now found around the world as a result of our travels and movement of livestock. While they may be successful, we usually view them with disdain, giving them names that reflect our dislike of them. One of the most common of these hitchhikers in southwest Florida is known as 'devil’s pitchfork', 'beggar's lice', or 'beggar ticks'. It is also known as 'Spanish needles', reflecting the 18th century contempt for the Spanish who occupied Florida. Spanish needles is one to four feet tall, a member of the Asteraceae family, and is easily recognized by its one inch diameter flowers with ragged white petals and a yellow center. But it is usually first noticed when its half inch long, black, sliver-like, forked-tipped seeds are found clinging to our socks or pants.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.