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.
Close up high-speed (10,000 fps) video of an exploding mature flower of Cornus canadensis. This video covers 13.2 ms and is played at 15 fps.
Distant high-speed (1,000 fps) video of a Cornus canadensis floral explosion showing vertical pollen release. The video was over-exposed to make pollen stand out. The wire used to trigger the explosion and a mm scale are visible. This video covers 210 ms and is played at 15 fps.
Close-up high-speed (10,000 fps) video of an exploding mature flower of Cornus canadensis with all four filaments cut showing that stamen movement does not contribute to rapid petal opening. This video covers 21.1 ms and is played at 15 fps. The wire used to trigger the explosion is visible.