A new rain-operated seed dispersal mechanism in Bertolonia mosenii (Melastomataceae), a Neotropical rainforest herb
MetadataShow full item record
Although widespread among fungi, lichens, liverworts, and mosses, seed dispersal mechanisms operated by rain are unusual among flowering plants. Generally speaking, two mechanisms are involved in seed dispersal by rains: the splash-cup and the springboard. Here we describe a new seed dispersal mechanism operated by rain in a Neotropical rainforest herb Bertolonia mosenii Cogniaux (Melastomataceae). The study was carried out at the lowland Atlantic rainforest, southeastern Brazil. We experimentally demonstrate that rain is necessary to release the seeds from the capsules through what we call squirt-corner seed dispersal mechanism: when a raindrop strikes the mature fruit, the water droplet forces the seeds outward to the angles (corners) of the triangular capsule and the seeds are released. As far as we know squirt-corner represents a new rain-operated seed dispersal mechanism, and a novel seed dispersal mode both for Melastomataceae and for flowering plants from Neotropical forests.