Many of us have watched small seeds drift away from a dandelion stem. The tiny parachutes ride the wind, carrying seeds up to 100 miles, including across stretches of water. How are dandelion seeds able to float such distances before landing? The ability lies within their feathery gray filaments. Unlike typical parachute fabric, the dandelion seed filaments are separated with up to 90 percent open space between them. Instead of a hindrance, however, this arrangement is the key to their success.
Researchers find that the movement of the dandelion seeds cause a tiny vortex or ring of moving air just above the filaments. This ring of air results in a bubble of slightly lower air pressure, giving lift to the seed system. The number of filaments around a seed typically numbers between 90-110, ideal for keeping the seed aloft. The filament openings also provide stability to prevent the floating seed from tumbling.
Dandelion seeds are designed and maximized for flight. It is no wonder that they have survived since their creation along with the entire plant world on Day 3 of the Creation Week. Continued study of dandelions may lead to improvements of parachutes, along with tiny drones which monitor the weather. Dandelions may be a nuisance on green lawns, yet they are a marvel of complexity and intelligent design.
Rehm, Jeremy, 2028, Dandelion seeds fly using “impossible” method never before seen in nature. Nature News, 2018. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07084-8