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News Story
Updated: 07/20/2017 07:58:02AM

To weed or not to weed?

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MARK DEYRUP PHOTO

The Beggar Tick Daisy can grow in the most challenging places. Here one is blooming in a crack in pavement.

MARK DEYRUP PHOTO

A sock with Beggar Tick Daisy seeds. The wearer brushed by three small plants.

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The Beggar Tick Daisy, also called Spanish Needles, is a plant familiar to every resident of Highlands County. It thrives, as the plant guides say, in roadsides and “waste places.” Highlands County has plenty of those, although ecologists prefer the term “disturbed areas” to “waste places.” It grows even better in a neglected area of the garden. Mark Deyrup, entomologist at the Archbold Biological Station, knows this too well. “If I leave home for a month in summer, by the time I return Beggar Tick Daisies that were almost too small to notice are five feet tall. When I try to pull them up I can pull a back muscle, or the plant breaks off at the base, or both. The broken plant recovers faster than my back.”

The Beggar Tick Daisy is also well known for its seeds, which have a pair of spines that get caught in the fur of animals, or in the socks and pants of humans. When the seeds are pulled off they are usually in a new site some distance from the parent plants. If they are not removed from clothing they redistribute themselves in the wash, appearing in all sorts of undesirable places.

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