July 20, 2024

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NatureToday | Nature on the doorstep: Creeper

He. She creeper It is a sidewalk weed that most people know. Heat-loving and usually annual species come according to it Heukel plants “For open, moist to dry, nutrient-rich, trampled or worked soils and between pavers.” If anything applies to a plant on the sidewalk, this is the description. Creeper is very generalalthough somewhat less in the northeastern half of the Netherlands than in the other half.

Creeper sleeve

In the 1960s, children – at least those near The Hague – called this grass “sleeve creeper”. It was always fun to take off the spikelets and stuff your sleeve bottom first. Then wait to see how long it took him to put it in your armpit. Due to the hooks on the scales and the long, stiff needles of the scales, such a spike could only slide in one direction; So that was it, up to your sleeve. It can also be used to stir up a bit: if someone puts such spikelets in your collar, you have to take off your shirt and blouse to get them out.

Spike, stem and creeping leaves.  Because of the hooks on the scales and the long, stiff needles, the creeper spike can only slide in one direction

bad feature

Letting the spikelet crawl up your sleeve may be a harmless fun, but the spikelet is not harmful. Let Google search for the crawler, dog and practical. You get a whole list of misery with pets that got a spikelet in the eye, leg or mouth. Such spikelets tend to go deeper and deeper into the tissues. This causes a nasty inflammation that can only be treated with surgery. Of course, no one expects such a thing when a pet bites off a few blades of grass.

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Tricky but beautiful creeping grassThe scientific name for the reptile is hordeum murinum, This name was given to the plant already in 1753 by Linnaeus. Hordeum is the Latin word for barley, beer grain, and consumer grain. The word is related to the Latin verb horrēre, which basically means something like “to stand upright” (of hair and the like) and thus “to be coarse.” The meaning of “trembling, being terrible” is another derivative. In this sense, it is related to the dread that we find in French and English are awful. For barley, the basic meaning of “being hairy” is most obvious.
Murinum means “mice, mouse-” and this refers to the color. Therefore, the name Linnaeus means “mouse gray barley”. It remains to be seen if he meant it that way. Mouse barley in the meaning “barley/for (mice)” would be in Latin Morium crowd be, for morium is the usual plural form of music, ‘mouse’. Now Linnaeus may have been a little careless when it came to names, but before we point the finger at him, we’d better look a little further. Then we see that Linnaeus used an ancient name, read on a bit Dodonius He had already written about the creeper in the 1644 edition a century earlier:

Muyse’s other atom is a completely different type of croidite
Short and empty [= laag] constantly lasting
With many short stalks […].
Wash [= groeit] Nevins Road Chicken
The ending is completely useless
It does not end anywhere in ghebruyckelijck: in Latin it is called Hordeum or Triticum murinum
This is Muysen Gerste or Muysen Terwe: So [= maar] Known as Muyse-koren: ‘t described here
For the difference between self and phoenix [= dolik, raaigras, Lolium spec.] to show.’


In neighboring countries, mice are also often referred to in relation to the creeper: in German the grass is called Mäuse-Gerste, in English mouse barley, false barley or parietal barley. The latter name may have been based on a misunderstanding: the Latin Murinum is probably seen here as derived from murus, ‘wall’, and this wild barley was thought to have grown near walls or city walls, or something.
French also refers to mice with orge des souris, “barley mouse.” But a whole series of other names are also used: orge des rats, orge queue-de-rat, orge queue-de-souris, orge sauvage, orge des lièvres. This means rat barley, rat tail barley, rat tail barley, wild barley, and even barley, respectively.
Mice are not referred to in Scandinavia: the Danish name is gold byg, “golden barley” and in Swedish it is vildkorn, “wild barley”.

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Creepers, count but keep the dog away


If you want to learn more about sidewalk plants, you can do so at Hortus botanicus in Leiden; Transfer your notes to it Pavement plants research. The more observations, the better the conclusions. But be especially careful that your dog does not eat the spikelets. It can prevent a lot of inconvenience.

Text: Wim Wortman, Horz Botanicus Leiden
Images: Eric van der Hoeven (main image: Creeper, as shown on Zakjeeds Stoepplanten); KU Leuven Helene Verhagen Wim Woortmann Hanny Giles