Here in south Georgia we call them beggar’s ticks and beggar’s lice (among other names). They’re seeds from a part of a large “genus” of plants called “stickers”. Some stickers, like blackberry vines, have prickly little thorns that will actually stick in your skin. I suppose roses, with big thorns, could also be in the group, but mostly stickers are of the bigger “weed” family and not the “good plant” family.
Other stickers have features that cause them to stick to a person’s clothing or an animal’s fur. Like a cocklebur – often cited as the inspiration for Velcro. (I guess sandspurs fit in both sticker categories – they stick to your clothes, but if you grab them wrong while picking them off, they will definitely stick into your skin too).
The beggar’s ticks and lice are in the sticky sticker category. One type of beggar’s tick is shown in the photo – a little stick with spiked barbs on the end. They will stick to most any type of clothing, but their preferred place is the shoestrings of tennis shoes. Another type does look more like a tick – a brown tick shaped seed, with two barbed horns coming out the top. I’ve also heard these called “devil’s ticks”, since the shape with the horns resembles the typical horned caricature of Satan’s head.
Beggar’s lice seeds are triangular in shape and are fuzzy from a dense covering of hairs. They are excellent “stickers” too, especially since they grow in bunches linked end to end. You can suddenly have what seems like a hundred of them on you from just walking through a few bushes.
Beggar’s lice started me thinking about all this. I began the day at a jobsite about 65 miles south of home. I was staking in power pole locations and I walked through several bush-covered areas. Later that day I ended up at the Post Office in Brooklet (about 11 miles west of home).
I noticed a lot of beggar’s lice on my pants leg (a hundred?), so I spent some time picking them off before I went inside. Since I just threw them on the ground, they had efficiently fulfilled their purpose. They had found an appropriate sticking place and spread a distance of 76 miles. They were ready to begin influencing their new location.
Seems like we should follow their example. As we read and hear the Gospel, we need to let it stick to us. Then take it with us as we go about our daily lives – wherever that may take us – and begin influencing our new locations.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16