Drill, baby, drill.

The seeds of Erodium cicutarium – a plant better known as "the stork's bill" or "filaree" – are remarkably dynamic. For starters, they are carried from their parent plants not by wind, water, or animals (all common forms of seed distribution), but via an explosive mechanism called "ballistic dispersal." Seeds from the Erodium genus can be launched distances of up to one meter (though contact with neighboring plants typically limits projectile range to half this distance).


More impressive, still: Once on the ground, E. cicutarium seeds bury themselves with what are called "hygroscopic movements." Basically, the seed coils itself into the earth, like a corkscrew into a wine-stopper:

In a 2010 investigation led by UC Berkeley biologist Dennis Evangelista, researchers studying Erodium dispersal and self-burial found that both mechanisms rely on "awns," helical bristles of dead tissue, attached to the seeds, that twist clockwise or counterclockwise in response to increases and decreases in humidity, respectively:

Photo Credit: Didier Descouens via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

H/t Colossal

Contact the author at rtgonzalez@io9.com.


Share This Story

Get our newsletter