The Bathurst Burr


IMG_1675You can strike them, you can slash them, you can dig them out.  It doesn’t do you any good,  as you lift your head there are three more, or five, or seven.  They’ve been around a while. The Bathurst Burrs were introduced to Australia from South America, probably Argentina, in the early 1800s. And they love watercourses, or in our case where the flood waters came to last September. Farmers around here know them intimately.

I have never seen a more self-protective  plant in my whole life. It bursts from the ground wearing horrible three pointed spines on each leaf and burrs already formed with their prickly catchy cover. You may well ask, where’s the flower. They don’t seem to bother with flowers and I’ve had a very good look. Look at a thistle, sure its prickly but the flowers are a gorgeous soft mauve or purple.  So where, you now ask, is the scent. No scent. It bursts forth from the ground wearing full armour, ready to rock and roll..

Can you imagine me writing a character with all these qualities.  People usually surround themselves with a crusty self protection if there is something soft and gentle inside. Something to protect. There is a reason for their surliness and their argumentative state.  A broken heart or a cruel, abusive father.  What does this plant have to hide?

Please tell me there is some secret medication we can make from them. I got quite tired today and thought maybe we could fill bombs with the wretched  burrs. We could drop them from the sky on enemy territory, imagine millions of these horrible burrs with their triple-spined spikes  floating down like a cloud and covering everything they landed on, it would make such  a great defensive weapon. Actually I can think of a use – they were obviously the inspiration for  Velcro.

I promise you nothing will eat them. This plant just  erupts from the ground already covered in leaves  and horrible three pointed sharp spikes. It grows quickly and soon covers itself with thousands of  sticky, catching burrs,  then they die leaving them carpeted on the ground to get picked up by our sheep as they walk past. Then that ruins the wool.

I have to laugh at our dog. He sits down with me at night and helps pull the burrs out of my jumper. I feel sorry for the sheep.

IMG_1679I’ve been studying these burrs quite closely lately, and have discovered a plant often growing at their feet, It’s a delicate little plant with tiny leaves and not a bur or spike anywhere. It is fascinating, once I’d began noticing them, I saw  more and more of them. They are best buddies with the Bathurst burr. This little plant obviously says I’ll stay right here, you protect me brother.  I’m not sure the Bathurst burr takes the trouble to answer. It doesn’t fit the character.



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