Brief Communications

Nature 435, 164 (12 May 2005) | doi:10.1038/435164a; Published online 11 May 2005

Botany:  A record-breaking pollen catapult

Joan Edwards1, Dwight Whitaker2, Sarah Klionsky1 & Marta J. Laskowski3

The release of stored elastic energy often drives rapid movements in animal systems1, 2, 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 explosively3, 4, 5. 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.

  1. Department of Biology, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267, USA
  2. Department of Physics, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267, USA
  3. Biology Department, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio 44074, USA

Correspondence to: Joan Edwards1 Email:


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