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World's fastest plant explodes with pollen

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10:13am, June 7, 2005

The fastest flower in the west, or anywhere else, is a woodland wildflower of North America called bunchberry dogwood, says a research team with a really fast camera.

A bunchberry dogwood (Cornus canadensis) bears flowers much like those of the beloved ornamental dogwood tree, but the entire bunchberry stands hardly knee high. Its tiny flowers span only a few millimeters and cluster at the center of four white, leaflike structures that casual observers mistake for petals.

Joan Edwards of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., says that she started studying the flowers' pollen release after one of her students was examining some of them and exclaimed that something had "poofed."

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