Celestial beauty scattering flowers—the stunt of dandelions
I remember that when I was young there used to be clumps of dandelions growing beside the aqueducts, on the ridges of fields, and on waste grasslands in my hometown. We called them “Spur Arrowroot” and a traditional Chinese medicine doctor called them “thistle”. They can be used as medicine. A perennial herb, dandelions have yellow or aubergine flowers. When the flower seeds are ripe, on the crown will grow many white flocky umbrella-shaped silky strands. With a small wind, these umbrella-shaped silky strands will carry the flower seeds and fly to a distance.
My most unforgettable memory of dandelions is when I plucked a handful of flower seeds with my young playmates and placed them close to the mouth and puffed at them vehemently to see whose flower seeds can fly the highest. The blown flower seeds are like several hundreds of paratroopers who jumped simultaneously off the plane. The scene is very spectacular.
One day while we were enjoying ourselves when grandma asked us, “look, why do these flower seeds have hair on their ends? The answer is worthy of a piece of rock candy.”
Looking at each other,,none of us knew the answer.
My grandma said, “The hairs on the end of the flower seeds of Spur Arrowroot are to carry the seeds to a more distant place when the hairs fly with wind. If they fall to the original place, all the seeds will grow in the same place the following year and the family will be too crowded”.
Oh, this turns out to be the secret.
In nature plants have a great many ways to spread their seeds. I think dandelions are the smartest. It grows hairs so that wind can scatter their seeds to a faraway place. The design is ingenious and unique and can be called as stunt in this aspect.
Another plant looks a little like Siberian Cocklebur of which the leaves resemble the donkey’s ears in size and shape, so is also called “donkey’s ear” by my vernacular. I remember once my elder cousin was infuriated when he sheared for about a dozen sheep at home. Why? Because there were a lot of Siberian Cocklebur attached to the sheep’s wool. In each Siberian Cocklebur there were about 30 bristles and on the top of the bristle was a barb. The barbs had tightly “grabbed” the sheep’s wool and it was extremely difficult to take them off and had to be torn off one by one.
Look, the plants that look like Siberian Cocklebur are also very clever. They use barbs to clutch at anything that they come up with so that their own children can be brought to a distant place to expand their territory of growth.
I can remember another time when my wife and I went on a trip to a lakeside. We drove from Harare. After driving along Bulawayo for more than 40 kilometers and turning left for more than 10 kilometers, we could see the lake. We parked the car at the campsite beside the lake, and walked along the grass clumps on the lakeside. We had to stop after walking for only 20 minutes. It turned out that the woolen skirt of my wife was covered with thousands of grass seeds, whose names I did not know. From one side of the seed stuck out a forked burr, which has a barb on its top. The barbs hitched the wools of the skirt and could not be got rid of by shaking or by brushing. We had no choice but to return to the campsite, where we spent nearly two hours taking them off one by one. Look, the grass also has its skills to diffuse its offspring.
In addition to the methods of seed diffusion employed by dandelions, Siberian Cocklebur, and grass, I have also seen another way of plant’s seeds spreading.
When I lived in room No. 11 next door to Bulgarian embassy to Harare, there was a plant in the garden (I don’t know its name),looks like a small tree. One day I accidentally spotted many walnut-sized fruits on the plant. Out of curiosity I picked one from the tree. Before I peeled it, it had exploded. With the explosion dozens of seeds were ejected. It turned out that these fruit-like things have only a very thin husk. Inside them was air. When they were inflated with air, they will blow up automatically, and eject the seeds from inside.
Look, the plant each has its own magic powers in spreading its seeds.
Have they themselves figured out all these wonderful methods of seed diffusion?
Can the theory of evolution offer an explanation?
Aren’t these stunts designed by the “someone” who has created them?