Flowers of Cornus canadensis explode open, launching their pollen, in less than 0.3 ms. Pollen is accelerated at more than 2000 times the acceleration of gravity, and is launched at speeds exceeding 4 m/s. To capture this extrememly rapid motion we recorded flower opening with a high-speed video camera capable of taking images at 10,000 frames per second (fps). Above are some videos of flower opening recorded at this rate but played back at 15 fps. Footage such as this was analyzed to not only measure the speeds and accelerations reached by this amazing plant, but also to understand its clever design. Because the anthers can rotate freely about the filament tip, pollen is accelerated straight upwards as the filaments unfold. Only after the pollen has reached do the anther tips move out away from the center of the plant releasing the pollen. In essence, each stamen is designed like a miniature midievel trebuchet for launching pollen. This design results in a natural release point, whch maximizes the pollen's vertical speed at the moment of launch.

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Animation created by Tomio Ueda, using Blender3D