Bizarre dancing plant that seems to sway on its own

Earlier this month, Jason Freeman and his wife were out cycling in South Carolina when they came across this bizarre dancing plant:

Even though there doesn’t seem to be any wind, the plant sways from side to side like a metronome. But don’t worry – this isn’t the first indication that the plants are preparing to rise up and overthrow us in a bloody coup.

According to one helpful commenter, the plant is actually swaying because of a very weak wind which isn’t noticeable to humans. The plant’s structure means that it amplifies the very slight movements caused by these winds, causing it to sway violently from side to side.

This phenomenon is described in a 2001 paper titled “Oscillation frequencies of tapered plant stems”, and you can read it here if you have a spare few hours and a scientific calculator.

Diagram explaining the phenomenon

Photo credits: Hanns-Christof Spatz and Olga Speck

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About Dom Stapleton

Dom Stapleton

As well as being the world’s northernmost capital city, Reykjavik in Iceland is also an incredible place to visit.

We stayed in a hotel right in the middle of the city and spent most days walking around from there. The main thing we noticed (apart from the cold, of course) was that the people are so friendly. At home, trying to cross the road is a nightmare, but in Reykjavik, the cars are literally queuing up to let you across.

When my partner and I went, in January 2013, the sun only started rising at about 10 am, which was a strange experience. And it got dark at about 4 pm each day!

Dom works in our marketing team

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