Video of explosive Euphorbia seed dispersal

The blast quite distracted me from my tortilla, so it did.

Hot Euphorbia helioscopia (?) action at around 0:18:

And in slowmo (sorry, only 10 frames/sec, and the res is dread):


Markus Jerominek has published a load of excellent botanical clips and filmed this really pretty zoom:

Seed spread in my case was constricted by my kitchen walls and probably by the fact that the specimens were plucked on Sunday last and are thus technically zombie bombardiers, but the furthest throw I observed was still a respectable 150cm. There’s a cool explanation of range function in Narbona E, Arista M, Ortiz PL. Explosive seed dispersal in two perennial Mediterranean Euphorbia species:

The distance of explosive dispersal, its pattern in time, and the relative importance of autochory have been studied in two diplochorous species: Euphorbia boetica and E. nicaeensis. The seeds of E. boetica released by explosive dispersal reached a median distance of 156 cm and a maximum of almost 8 m, while the distances reached by the seeds of E. nicaeensis were lower: a median of 132 cm and a maximum of 5 m. The differences in explosive dispersal distance between species seem to depend on both seed mass and caruncle retention. The seeds of both species present a caruncle, but in E. boetica this is tiny, and in most cases is shed during the explosion of the capsules. The distances reached by the seeds of these species, dispersed just by capsule explosion, were similar to or greater than the distances to which ants disperse seeds in the Mediterranean sclerophyllous vegetation. Diplochorous plants may maximize either the distance of primary dispersal or that of secondary dispersal. Given that the seeds of E. boetica, that lose their caruncles, are not gathered by myrmecochorous ants, the results suggest that E. boetica maximizes its primary dispersal distance, whereas E. nicaeensis favors its secondary dispersal.

Twisted fruit is sweeter, say the Turks: Euphorbia is enchantingly ugly, and the tortilla de patatas tasted better than it looked.

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