Moss counters shortness with A-bomb-style clouds

Sphagnum overcomes drag by launching spores in vortex rings

By Susan Milius, 13:21 PM January 6, 2010

SEATTLE — A little bog moss turns out to be a master of throwing up.

Sphagnum moss shoots its spores extra high by using a trick, called a vortex ring, previously known only from animals, says plant ecologist Joan Edwards of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. The additional loft gives spores a better chance of rising into the zone of turbulent air and catching currents for a ride to new homes.

Throwing dust, or the tiny dustlike spores produced by the moss, any meaningful distance is ...

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