Why some dummy would want to bring this overpowering weed into California is beyond me but it seems that someone did and did it intentionally a long time ago. This prickly beasts can live on almost no water, no dirt, no sunlight, and no room so they can literally box out every single bush and plant they surround. Worse, the thorns you see here are about 2 inches long, hard as sticks, and sharp enough to be used as needles on leather! Step on one and you’ll be cursing the day this invasive species first popped out of the ground. Jump back from that first step and get another dose of agony in your other foot and the likelihood of you falling and SITTING on more of them increases dramatically. I’ve never had one go all the way thru a shoe but I’ve pulled them out of the bottom of tennis shoes. Deer seem to be unphased by them, as are turkeys, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and many other four-legged, medium-sized animals tho I can’t imagine why. Cut them down with a mulching lawnmower and the suckers will stick you LONG after the plant is history; the needles just turn brown and stay put.
Why in the world these things need to be this nasty is beyond me. They don’t attach to things as well as burrs, their needle help distribute neither seeds nor pollens, and they aren’t cute, edible, or removable. One of Sacramento’s most cherished parks is the American River Parkway that weaves from Sacramento thru some of the most beautiful riparian landscapes around. In places, it has been completely taken over by this bane and even the occasional grass fire doesn’t kill them dead enough to not come back before everything else does and spread like the same sort of wildfire!
I bet Medieval warriors saw this vile looking flora and created really awful weapons from its design. They may not have been WMD’s (If you don’t know what this is, don’t ask and you’ll be better off. Trust me.) but they would have been lethal nonetheless!