The seeds of dandelions, pesky and irritating as they are, bear an extraordinary aerodynamic property that allows them to be carried far by the wind. In contrast, the seeds of maple trees, despite having wing-like structure, don't just float away in the air or get dispersed widely.
Unlike flying objects with wings, which relies on the pressure differential between the top and bottom side of the wing to sustain flight, the bristles on dandelion seeds form a little parachute and are believed to be the key to their wind dispersal nature.
Using a new technique, a group of researchers at the University of Edinburgh unraveled the secret behind the seeds' flying ability. They placed the seeds in an upward wind tunnel and used a laser beam to visualize the airflow around them. They discovered separate stable vortices above the seeds, which were thought impossible previously. The number of bristles per seed and how they are arranged appeared to underpin the unique aerodynamic of dandelion seeds, as researchers concluded.
Source: Nature Video via Youtube