Self Twisting Weed

A few months ago (in mid winter) I was talking with my wife’s family and describing this really cool weed to them. “It peels off of the stem and then drills itself into the ground!” They looked at me like I was crazy….

I knew I would get my chance during the spring to prove that I wasn’t some “twisting weed lunatic”, so I waited patiently.

Finally my chance came. I went outside on 3/25/04 and grabbed my proof. I setup my webcam and took some videos. I have no idea what it is called, but below is my proof of the coolest weed I’ve ever seen!

This is the main portion of the weed. Each “spear” holds about 5 seeds.

When the plant begins to die the spears turn brown and release the seeds. The seeds along with their dried up tails drop to the ground. If lucky the seed’s head may find a small crack in the ground and instantly the tails begins to twist causing the seed to drill into the soil for a perfect home until the next spring arrives.

Here are the videos I made:

VIDEO 1 – weed-10x.wmv – 668kb. Shows the weed twisting (sped up 10 times)

VIDEO 2 – weed-normal.wmv – 750kb. The first minute of the video above in real time.

VIDEO 3 – weeds-5x.wmv – 775kb. A few weeds all spinning together (sped up 5 times).

Great news! Per my sister-in-law’s father I found out what this weed is! From his email: “This is fascinating! I’m sure this weed is filaree. There are several species so I don’t know of which one you took pictures. One of the common names is storksbill. Enjoyed your site. “

4 thoughts on “Self Twisting Weed”

  1. LOVED VIDEO! I am a teacher and would love to obtain filaree seeds to use in science class with my kids. Any ideas where I can get these?

    Thank you. Ellie

  2. I am also a science teacher in Ohio and would love to have some filaree seeds to use in my Plant Unit.

    Thanks Susan

  3. These are actually quite dangerous for your dogs (or other outside animals). They can “drill” into the animals skin and work it’s way inside them and be potentially fatal. So, might be a neat project for students but I’d be careful with disposal if I were you…don’t want to end up with a yard full (trustme!!) ! 🙂

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