In a nod to the “Roy Lichtenstein: Monet’s Garden Goes Pop!” exhibit at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Downtown Sarasota campus, April’s EcoQuest Challenge is Plants that Pop! We are focusing on plants that spread their seeds through ballistichory. This is the sudden rapid ejection of seed from a fruit by explosive dehiscence. Dehiscence is the process whereby a fruit naturally opens at maturity to disperse its seeds. This may happen slowly, taking hours or days, or may happen in the blink of an eye. The explosive or ballistic “shooting” out of seed gives this mechanism its name. The result of ballistichory is that seeds are flung far from the parent plant, greatly improving seed dispersal.. This month, we are featuring this amazing mechanism in Plants that Pop! Be sure to join this project on iNaturalist!
Florida’s native partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), shown below, is an easily recognizable plant that uses explosive dehiscence for seed dispersal.
Check out the cool videos below, showcasing Plants that Pop!
Below are some examples of species you can find in Sarasota and Manatee counties.
Abelmoschus esculentus (okra)
Chamaecrista fasciculata (partridge pea)
Cnidoscolus stimuosus (tread softly)
Crotalaria rotundifolia (rabbitbells)
Croton punctatus (beach tea)
Galactia elliottii (Elliott’s milkpea)
Galactia regularis (Eastern milkpea)
Oxalis spp. (sorrel)
Tephrosia chrysophylla (scurf hoarypea)
Ricinus communis (castor oil plant)
Ruellia simplex (Mexican petunia)
While all ferns utilize explosive dehiscence, it can only be seen through a microscope under proper conditions, so we are not including ferns in this Challenge. We will revisit ferns in another EcoQuest soon, so stay tuned!
Chamaecrista fasciculata, Photo by Sean Patton