Asteraceae, one of the largest flowering plant families, are adapted to a vast range of ecological niches. Their adaptability is partially based on their strong ability to reproduce. The initial, yet challenging, step for the reproduction of animal-pollinated plants is to transport pollen to flower-visiting pollinators. We adopted Hypochaeris radicata as a model species to investigate the functional morphology of the typical floral feature of Asteraceae, a pollen-bearing style. Using quantitative experiments and numerical simulations, here we show that the pollen-bearing style can serve as a ballistic lever for catapulting pollen grains to pollinators. This can potentially be a pollen dispersal strategy to propel pollen to safe sites on pollinators' bodies, which are beyond the physical reach of the styles. Our results suggest that the specific morphology of the floret and the pollen adhesion avoid pollen waste by catapulting pollen within a specific range equal to the size of a flowerhead. The insights into the functional floral oscillation may shed light on the superficially unremarkable, but ubiquitous functional floral design of Asteraceae.

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