How far can dandelion seeds travel?

Make a wish… a dandelion parachute can go further than you would think. 

26th October 2016
How far can dandelion seeds travel? (Getty)

Asked by: Liz Dawes, Preston

A 2003 study at the University of Regensburg in Germany found that 99.5 per cent of dandelion seeds land within 10 metres of their parent. That’s because the seed ‘parachute’ falls at about 30cm per second and dandelions only grow about 30cm high. So that gives each seed just one second of flight time to be blown sideways by the wind to its new home.

Higher wind speeds don’t really increase the distance the seeds fly, because strong winds tend to blow downwards as well as sideways, so the seeds just land even sooner.

The best conditions for dandelion seeds are actually relatively calm, sunny days that generate thermal updraughts. Under these conditions, dandelion seeds can go much further and the study estimated that 0.014 per cent – about one in 7,000, would travel more than a kilometre. 

 


Get more fascinating Q&As from BBC Focus magazine by following @sciencefocusQA

You are currently reading: How far can dandelion seeds travel? - 26th October