During little town on the Prairie, Laura took Mary out for a walk on the prairie one day. However, while they were walking, the girls ended up with a strange kind of grass that was burrowing into their stockings and dresses. What was very unusual about this grass was that when they tried to pull it out of their stockings and dress, it has a little Barb on it which made it very difficult for it to be pulled out, and it ended up actually acting like a corkscrew and twisting further into their clothing.
When Charles Ingalls arrived home at lunch that day, they told him about the strange grass they discovered and when he looked at it, he called it Spanish needle grass.
Spanish needle grass isn’t actually a grass at all but it is technically a weed. When it blooms it has white petals. It is also considered to be useful for a variety of herbal remedies as well. However, the Ingalls family knew it as being a pest because it could actually kill farm animals if it buried into their skin or their mouths.
Laura showed Pa where the Spanish needle grass was as it was very important that they removed it from their farmland so that it didn’t injure their animals. He went and burned the grass and the surrounding needles because in the book he said that they believe it can be killed when you burn it while it’s green.
What makes this episode of note in the books is that Ma remarks it often feels like they are fighting the prairie all the time even though it looks so beautiful and gentle.
Laura also included this episode with the Spanish needles in her original pioneer girl manuscript as well.