Questions for ‘The plant world has some true speed demons’


The leaves of the Venus flytrap are snapping shut, jailing its prey through a process called snap-buckling. The outer leaf surface expands until it’s too much for the inner surface of the leaf to bear.


To accompany feature “The plant world has some true speed demons”


Before Reading:

1.  Have you ever seen a plant move on its own? What kind of plant was it? Describe the movement.

2.  The Venus flytrap is famous for its ability to trap and consume insects. How does it do this? What part of the plant moves?

During Reading: 

1.  Name three plants that can move quickly and describe those fast motions.

2.  What is soft matter physics?

3.  What is snap-buckling?

4.  How does a bunchberry dogwood send out pollen from its stamens?

5.  What advantage does a Sphagnum affine peat moss plant get from sending out its spores in an explosion?

6.  How does a plant use water to help it move? Is this motion fast or slow?

7.  Where does the heat used by mistletoe for seed dispersal come from?

8.  How fast can the seeds of the hairyflower wild petunia spin?

9.  What are two ways that being speedy can give some species of plants advantages over others?

After Reading: 

1.  At the end of the story, Karl Niklas says that he suspects “plants will be around a lot longer than we will.” What does he mean by that? And why might that be true or not? Use evidence from the story to explain your answer.

2.  Some plants are speedy, but many are not. If being speedy gives a plant certain advantages, why aren’t all plants speedy?