Botany: A Record-Breaking Pollen Catapult

Document Type



Physics (Pomona)

Publication Date



flower stamens, bunchberry dogwood, cornus canadensis, catapult, pollen, high-speed video, floral explosion


The release of stored elastic energy often drives rapid movements in animal systems, and plant components employing this mechanism should be able to move with similar speed. Here we describe how the flower stamens of the bunchberry dogwood (Cornus canadensis) rely on this principle to catapult pollen into the air as the flower opens explosively. Our high-speed video observations show that the flower opens in less than 0.5 ms — to our knowledge, the fastest movement so far recorded in a plant.

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