Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Content Highlights - Arctium lappa and Velcro

Did you know which organism was the inspiration for Velcro? An unimpressive plant, at first glance, which spreads its seeds through "furry" animals – a burdock (Arctium lappa).
Articum lappa x minus specimen from Biologiezentrum, Linz-Dornach collection, leg Hans Metlesics. Link to the original source is http://bit.ly/Arctium_lappa. The image is under CC-BY-SA licence.

Arctium lappa is a dicotyledonous herb of the family Asteraceae, a group that includes the well-known dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and daisy (Leucanthemum). It is one of the largest plants in Central Europe. It has a strong and long root, strong stems and large leaves alternately built. Red flowers are tubular and form spherical inflorescences arranged in a corymb, surrounded by bracts with hooked tops. Fruit of burdock is achene with short fluff. Burdock is found along roadsides, in rubble, landfills, etc. The plant is also known from Asia, Africa and America.
Velcro on jacket.

Burdock is a medicinal herb with multiple uses. Perhaps the greatest benefit to man, however, lies in different properties of this plant. In 1948 the Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral noticed that the spherical fruits of burdock would catch on his clothes. After studying the mechanism in more detail at home, came up with an invention that changed the world - Velcro. Velcro was soon found in many applications, such as the textile industry, healthcare, aerospace, engineering, etc.
Results for Actium lappa on Europeana portal http://bit.ly/Arctium_lappa_Europeana

We will bring you more interesting news from the Nature soon. Stay tuned!