Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Speargrass and Other Sharp Objects

During the wildflower season, the folks responsible for mowing the Dog Park grounds are pretty careful about not cutting the flowers before they have faded and gone to seed (at least this year they are). One drawback of that strategy, however, is that the speargrass gets out of hand. 

Speargrass is pointy, clingy, and devious. It can wiggle its way through your dog's fur, burrow into his or her skin, and cause some serious damage. 

The most informative site I found is Australian. The Aussies call speargrass "Texas needlegrass." The grass is native to Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico, but it has migrated to Australia and caused problems there. The images here are from the Australian site, and yet they look just like Dog Park. 

Just the other day, I was petting on Roma and felt something sharp and spiny in her side. It was the stem , or the awn bends, of the grass. I gave a quick yank and was lucky enough to pull the head, or lemma, out before it had dug too deeply into her skin. She picked the grass up on her first trip to D.P. after a week at the kennel, where I know there is no speargrass. 

So, here's one more thing to check for after a trip to the Park, especially if your dogs have a rough coat that will pick up the grass. Good luck! 

Speaking of prickly things found at the Park . . . 

As I predicted, the Prickly Poppy I'd been watching carefully bloomed while I was away, but I did manage to find a few examples for you. The flowers appear so delicate, yet they are protected by some fierce looking thorns. Seems like almost everything in Texas has thorns, prickers, or sharp little teeth (fire ants, I'm talking about you). And yet, I can't imagine living anywhere else.   --z


  1. I was hoping you would profile this one. We saw it walking and thought it was quite unique, and I knew you would know what it was!

  2. Laura Ingalls refers to speargrass in one of her books. She calls it Spanish needles and describes how cattle would die after the needles sewed their lips together. Not sure about the truth of that one, but I'm always extra careful to pick it off of the dogs. . .


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