Bunchberry found to be fastest plant

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The Independent Online

Botanists have identified the fastest moving plant in the world - the bunchberry dogwood of North America.

Tests have shown that the petals of the plant's tiny flowers can move at 22 feet per second when they open with an explosive force. The bunchberry dogwood - Cornus canadensis - grows in dense carpets in the vast spruce-fir forests of the North American taiga. The petals explode open to launch pollen an inch into the air, a study at Williams College in Willisamstown, Massachusetts, showed.

The pollen is ejected to 10 times the height of the small plant so that it can be carried away on the wind.

The scientists say inNature: "Bunchberry stamens are like miniature medieval trebuchets - specialised catapults that maximise throwing distance by having the payload [pollen in the anther] attached to the throwing arm [filament] by a hinge or flexible strap."