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No. 54: Nov-Dec 1987

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Electric-power plants!

Referring to a previous Science News item (132:53, 1987) on the electrostatic dispersal of fungal spores, A.F. Kah describes another use of electricity by plants:

"In a similar manner, the same-charged fluffy fibers of milkweed (and presumably other fuzzy seeds) spring apart from electrostatic repulsion when the fibers have dried out. This explosive fiber spreading at the right moment is beautiful and fascinating to watch, and is certainly effective in getting them airborne!"

(Kah, Ann F.; "Fluffy Explosion," Science News, 132:163, 1987.)

Comment. See SF#30 for an item on heat production in plants. It must have been a serendipitous series of tiny random mutations that led to this electrostatic phenomenon. Of course, we can say the same for electric catfish, too.

From Science Frontiers #54, NOV-DEC 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss