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How far can dandelion seeds travel? © Getty Images

How far can dandelion seeds travel?

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

Asked by: Liz Dawes, Preston

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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.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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