Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel)

Kalmia Latifolia – Mountain Laurel

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Mountain laurel flowers dispense pollen in a unique manner. Their stamens act like catapults: the pollen-bearing tips (anthers) are secured in pockets at the edge of the petals, so that when the flower opens, the stalks (filaments) of the stamens arch backward under tension. When a visitor seeks nectar in the center of the flower, its weight dislodges the stamens, which spring up flinging pollen onto the visitor’s body at a speed of about 11.5 feet/second. If you are not fortunate enough to observe how a stamen reacts with an insect, then try it yourself by tapping the arched stamen with a pen or pencil. You can see close-ups of secured and dislodged stamens in this video.

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