Daily Devotional - January 10
The bunchberry dogwood plant has a built-in trebuchet. A what you ask? A trebuchet is a medieval projectile-launcher. Envision it as a complex catapult. During the Middle Ages, trebuchets were designed using the principles of leverage to propel large objects faster and farther than a simple catapult. Bunchberries carpet the spruce-fir forests of North America in late April to May. The flower centers (where the pollen is produced) are only 0.1” tall so the pollen needs to be propelled upward to reach other flowers. High speed video cameras were needed to see how this plant sends its pollen flying. Scientists first tried with a camera that was able to take 1,000 pictures a second, but this proved to be too slow to capture the trebuchet’s speed. So they brought in cameras capable of capturing 10,000 pictures a second. What they saw amazed them.
As bunchberry flower petals open, each petal is separated and flipped backwards (out of the way). Almost instantaneously, the stamen unfurls, catapulting pollen into the air and sending it off to pollinate other bunchberries. What is so amazing is the speed at which this process takes place. The unfurling of the petals to the launching of the pollen takes only four-tenths of a thousandth of a second. This causes the pollen to be subjected to 2,400 times the force of gravity. This is quite a projectile launcher!
Building a trebuchet took planning and design in the same way the bunchberry’s miniature trebuchet took planning and design. When you see a design, you know there must be a designer. It is difficult to imagine how a plant evolved to have each of its individual petals rapidly flip down and out of the way at just the right time. If the stamen’s miniature trebuchet was not ready to fire, nothing would happen. In the same way, a rapid fire pollen launcher would not be needed unless the petals burst open at the right time. Everything has to be coordinated perfectly from the beginning to do exactly what is needed.
Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise.
~ Psalm 48:1