I once visited a terrarium designer in the downtown commercial district of Los Angeles. It was an airy loft space, where glass cases were stacked as high as the ceiling, pencil sketches covered the walls, and young orchids grew alongside bookmarked horticulture books. Reptiles and ferns rustled in a dark back room. Dust and debris floated through the large windows from the bustling open air market two floors below.
What do NASA astronauts, new parents, and NBA phenoms have in common? They all owe a debt of gratitude to burdock (Arctium), whose hook-tipped burrs inspired the invention of Velcro®. Hailed as the revolutionary "zipperless zipper," the hook-and-loop fastener has been used to adhere artificial hearts, diving gear, and diapers. And it emulates a design that was refined and perfected by a certain thistle: burdock.