24 August 2009

A spiny bear's foot on the Common?

You often see these flat, prickly leaves in the middle of the paths on Meadowridge Common. Have you ever stopped to wonder what they are? It is a platdoring, or Arctopus echinatus.
In Greek, arktos is "bear", and pous is "foot" (yes it is!) and echinatus is Latin for "spiny" or "prickly". So a spiny bear's foot! It has an underground stem, and is common in sandy, flat places. It belongs to the carrot family, and male and female plants are separate. The plant above was found Meadowridge Common, and the two below, male (left) and female (right) are from the slopes of the Hottentots Hollands.