Aggravating: Virginia Stickseed | Outside My Window


Virginia stickseed (photo by Kate St. John)

In a few weeks this plant will be very aggravating. Those tiny green balls are solidly attached to the stems right now but soon they’ll dry out and grab onto your clothes and your dog if you brush past the plant. They’re the fruits of Virginia stickseed (Hackelia virginiana).

Virginia stickseed is so inconspicuous in bloom that we barely notice it at this stage.

Virginia stickseed in bloom (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The flowers are tiny …

Virginia stickseed flower (photo by Kate St. John)

When fertilized they become small burs made of four nutlets facing each other. The outer surface is like velcro.

Fruits of Virginia stickseed, early August 2019 (photo by Kate St. John)

To give you an idea of their size, I pulled some fruits off the stem. It was hard to detach them because they haven’t dried out yet in early August.

Just wait until they turn brown!

p.s. There’s another less common native plant called small flowered agrimony with a similar fruit. Read more about it in this vintage blog: Slightly Aggravating.

(flowering plant photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original. All other photos by Kate St. John)