17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Monday, December 9, 1912: Get in the Spanish Needles and had to pick them off of my clothes.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Spanish Needles are so annoying—
I have often gotten Spanish Needles on my clothes, but when I read this diary entry I couldn’t picture what the plants looked like . I never seem to notice the pesky plant until after tiny barbs are embedded in my cloths.
I googled Spanish Needle and discovered that it is part of the Astor family. There are several different closely related plants that are called Spanish Needle. Some have yellow flowers. . others have white flowers.
Grandma probably was just distracted and bumped against the Spanish Needle plants, but there’s a slim possibility that she was trying to gather Spanish Needle leaves (Are the leaves still on the plants in December?) to make tea and got the needles on her clothes.
For the past week or so, Grandma’s been sick with a bad cold and sore throat—and Spanish Needles are an old-fashioned remedy.
Its leaves are chewed for sore throat or boiled to make a tea that is said to help with upper-respiratory infections.