Q. What seeds explode upon touch?

I watched a video on pollination and there was a plant that would explode and a bunch of seeds flew everywhere if anything touched it.


Answer

The seed distribution mechanism that you are describing is called explosive dehiscence. Dehiscence is the splitting of a plant part along a line of weakness at maturity and there are many plants that release their seeds in this fashion - the seed capsule is designed to break and release seeds when it is mature. The propulsive dispersal (explosive dehiscence) that you saw in the video is more unusual. Mechanical energy stored in the plant's fruit is transferred to the seeds to increase their kinetic and potential energy.

One common garden plant that releases seeds with explosive force when touched is impatiens which allows it to spread seed more widely than would otherwise be the case. Jewelweed, a relative of garden impatiens with the botanical name Impatiens capensis, is one of the most studied examples of the explosive dehiscence phenomena.

If you are interested in learning more about the science of this seed distribution mechanism, you can find it in this article The Mechanics of Explosive Seed Dispersal in Orange Jewelweed from the Journal of Experimental Botany. If you do a search using the term explosive dehiscence you will find more videos online of seed pods bursting and propelling their seeds.

Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service

  • Last Updated Jan 25, 2021
  • Views 2
  • Answered By Leslie Coleman

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