In a study published this summer, physicist Dwight Whitaker and his team describe how peat moss creates a vortex ring (like in a bomb blast’s mushroom cloud) to help propel their spores further.
This is the first time anyone has documented a plant creating a vortex ring, Whitaker said. In animals it is not that uncommon. Squid and jellyfish create vortex rings to propel themselves forward, and a healthy human heart creates a vortex ring between the left atrium and ventricle.
“This explains one of the wonders of the botanical world,” said biologist Joan Edwards of Williams College, an author on the paper. “It is amazing that such a simple plant came up with such a sophisticated system for propelling its spores.”
Follow the link for a couple brief HD videos of the explosions.