Title

Botany: A Record-Breaking Pollen Catapult

Document Type

Article

Department

Physics (Pomona)

Publication Date

5-12-2005

Keywords

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

Abstract

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.

Rights Information

© 2011 Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.