Botanical tricks include adhesion and bubbles to spread their spores
BOSTON — Plants appear to live the ultimate sedentary lifestyle, but they’ve got mad aeronautical skills when it comes to their progeny. Two new studies — one investigating the catapult action of ferns, and another examining the “jumping spores” of a species of horsetail — reveal surprising botanical mechanical tricks for dispersing future offspring.
Consider Equisetum’s jumping spores. Known as horsetail or scouring rush, Equisetum bears spores that are decked out with four slender, arm-like projections called elaters. Botanists have long presumed that the elaters, which are curled around the spore and unfu