17 October 2013


Whilst checking the sheep at one of the meadows recently, I was very struck by the amazing structure of some teasel heads in the ditch and how they have evolved to be so 'multi-purpose'.
Earlier in the season, the tall stems carry the flowers aloft, advertising the tightly packed flowers to passing insects for pollination. The close packing of the flowers seems optimise the number of flowers over a given surface area - all interlocking with not an air gap to see.
The sharp spines on both flower heads and stem protect the flower from grazing and the hollow stems given strength but with economy of structure.
After pollination, the seed heads act as shakers and rattles for dispersing the seed ( if the flocks of goldfinches don't get there first).
On dewy autumn mornings, intricately worked spiders' webs are clearly visible, the spiny framework of the flower heads providing an ideal support over which to drape over the sticky snares.