Autumn's a season of seeds.
Seeds in the fields, seeds in the trees, and seeds on the roadside seeking a ride.
Beggar lice, tickseed, cocklebur, sandspur, devil's toothpick and Spanish needle;
just a few of the plants looking for a lift from the animal kingdom.
Long before the days of corduroy pants and tall cotton socks, every manner of animal pelt provided the perfect vehicle for the seeds of these hitchhiking plants.
On a cloudy afternoon in the heart of Carolina, a simple, innocuous yellow blossom gives little hint of what else is waiting in this dense roadside colony of Bidens bipinnata.
The center of each dainty, disheveled flowerhead boasts a couple dozen diminutive disk flowers, each of which will birth a single spiny Spanish needle.
An elegantly simple solution for seed dispersal: the mature seeds wait patiently with outstretched hands for an hirsute traveler to sidle by; in an instant, tiny grasping fingers latch on , and the dead and brittle flower head gladly releases its grip.
A tiny packet of genetic material hopefully sets forth, perchance to fall on fertile ground, free of its parent's shadow, where it might establish a new colony of lovely little golden asters.