The Secret World of Seeds

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By this time of the year, many of you have your seeds already started indoors, so in this section, I thought I’d share a few fun facts with you about seeds, such as how seeds disperse themselves.  Some plants, like Burrs, have hooks on them that catch an animals’ fur or a human sweater as they are passing by.  They stay stuck on for a while, then eventually fall apart and release their seeds after they have moved a significant distance from the mother plant.  The seed then grows in a place away from the parent plant.  Other seeds are dispersed by animals eating the berry surrounding the seed. Strawberries, and many other berries are good examples of having a very hard seed coat that is ingested by animals, and then dispersed in the animal’s feces matter where it is both protected and fertilized!  Some seeds have ‘wings’ like Maples that catch the wind and fly away from the mother tree, while still others have ‘parachutes’ like dandelions and milkweed that catch the wind also.  Plants like Iris have exploding seedpods that open when seeds are mature with such force that the seeds are dispersed some distance away.  Coconuts, which are incidentally the biggest seed of all, have an air pocket in them enabling them to float long distances in the ocean to other island beaches before they germinate.  Poppy seeds are kept in a pod that is similar to a peppershaker…. and when the wind blows, it disperses the thousands of tiny seeds. Some seeds can lay dormant for thousands of years, while others are good for only one year such as carrot seed, and still other seeds need light to germinate instead of dark.  Many of our native seeds need a cold period to induce germination and will not grow if not either placed in cold storage or endured a winter outside. 

Seed preference is almost as varied the species itself is.  It makes one appreciate the seed company’s work before offering the seed for sale!!