Plants' reproductive weaponry unfurled | Science News

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Plants' reproductive weaponry unfurled

Botanical tricks include adhesion and bubbles to spread their spores

By
4:56pm, March 5, 2012

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

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