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Like a medieval catapult, the bunchberry dogwood shoots pollen grains into the air faster than the Venus flytrap can snap its jaws shut, giving this launcher the speed record for plants.
"Most people think of plants as stationary and sedentary," said Joan Edwards of Williams College. "We were even surprised how fast this flower opens."
Using high-speed video observations, Edwards and her colleagues timed the tiny explosions of Cornus Canadensis, a species of dogwood that covers the ground of spruce-fir forests from Virginia to Canada. The flower opens its petals and fires its pollen in less than 0.5 milliseconds.
This discharge is quicker than other speedy organisms: the Venus flytrap closes in 100 milliseconds; the froghopper (an insect) leaps in 0.5 to 1.0 milliseconds; the mantis shrimp (a tiny crustacean) kicks in 2.7 milliseconds.