Lets face it, half the world is fixated by the latest Star Wars film!
What better time to feature Mother Earth’s own miniature ‘death stars’ – something you may not yet be familiar with?
They may be small, but if you step on one of these beauties you’ll know it and we won’t need Dolby Surround Sound to hear you howling!
So here it is: Trapa natans
- the barbed points
- the armoured shell
- the fearsome, uncompromising appearance
These ‘Death Stars’ are found in Europe and are starting to invade North America.
They are the fruiting body of the European Water Chestnut (Trapa natans), not to be confused with the Asian Water Chestnut which you may eat in a Chinese restaurant.
This plant lives in freshwater lakes and ponds, and when these seeds are released, they float across the water before ultimately settling and germinating.
We can be pretty certain that in the process of evolution, the design of the seed was focussed on the successful reproduction of the plant. It is very robust and the barbed points will stick to animals to help distribute the seeds.
However, if success were dependent on spiking the feet of swimmers / sailors / canoeists etc then Mother Nature did a brilliant job.
The seeds float innocuously to the fringes of the lake and then nestle invisibly in the grass until trodden on.
No wonder they’ve been called Death Stars!
Not only do they look evil, imagine getting one of those barbed points deep into your insole – the little brutes can even pierce the sole of a shoe.
Next time youare going down to the lake be warned; you may be in for a surprise!