Main Narrative » Traveling Plants

Traveling Plants: Plants on the move

By Amy Weiss

Sep 26 2019

Plants might not be able to move the way animals do, but they can definitely travel. Plants have evolved a number of different ways to move their propagules (fruits, seeds, spores, and vegetative fragments)—from utilizing wind and water, getting a hand from animals, or doing it themselves mechanically. The dispersal of propagules allows plants to find new suitable habitat (away from the competition of the parent plant) and expand their range. Being able to travel is an important skill in the face of climate change that can alter local environmental conditions.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, seen above) is an example of wind dispersal that most people have experienced. After flowering, the head of the dandelion is covered with many dry fruits, each attached to a tuft of hairs, called a pappus. The hairs act like a parachute, allowing the fruit to catch a breeze and float through the air, landing someplace new. They might also help your wishes come true, unless your wish is a dandelion-free lawn.

Click on the postcards below to read examples of other ways plants travel.