High-speed cameras capture how fastest-known rotation helps plants fling seeds far
Erin Tripp/Univ. of Colorado
Nature may have a few things to teach tennis players about backspin.
The hairyflower wild petunia (Ruellia ciliatiflora) shoots seeds that spin up to 1,660 times per second, which helps them fly farther, researchers report March 7 in Journal of the Royal Society Interface. These seeds have the fastest known rotations of any plant or animal, the authors say. Plants that disperse seeds a greater distance are likely to be more successful in reproducing and spreading.
Glue that holds the flower’s podlike fruit together breaks down on contact with water, allowing the fruit to split explosively, launching millimeter-sized seeds. Little hooks inside the pod help fling these flattened discs at speeds of around 10 meters per second.
Using high-speed cameras that record 20,000 frames per second, the researchers analyzed the seeds’ flight. “Our first