Why dandelion seeds are so good at spreading broadly

You don’t want a dandelion to know which method the wind blows. However it may possibly assist.

On any given dandelion, some seeds are destined to go north, whereas others are fated to fly east, south or west, and each route in between. In impact, every dandelion seed is programmed to launch for a wind coming from one route and resists winds from different instructions, based on analysis to be offered on the American Bodily Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics in Indianapolis on November 20.

Dandelion seeds are vulnerable to totally different wind instructions relying on the place they’re on the seed head, says Jena Shields, a biophysicist at Cornell College. The feathery seeds on the facet dealing with a breeze will let go most simply; the others maintain on tens to a whole lot of instances tighter — till the wind shifts.

Whether or not from nature or a baby’s puff, dandelion seeds are delicate to wind route, which helps them to disperse broadly.Jena Shields/Cornell College

It’s a phenomenon that Shields got down to examine after her adviser seen the best way dandelions responded as his toddler performed with the flowers.

Shields measured the power it takes to pluck dandelion seeds by supergluing a positive wire to the tufted ends and pulling them from the seed heads at varied angles. This seed-by-seed examine mimicked what occurs when wind, or a baby’s breath, pushes them over. As a result of every seed is most vulnerable to winds from distinct instructions, it helps stop seeds from all going the identical method, Shields says, and should clarify why the vegetation are so profitable at spreading. As soon as blown off a dandelion, the umbrella-like tuft on a seed carries it on the breeze that pulled it away (SN: 10/17/18). 

“However a powerful, turbulent wind can nonetheless ship all of the seeds flying in the identical route,” Shields says, so the impact can’t assure {that a} highly effective gust or exuberant little one gained’t blow off all of the seeds directly.

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