Did you know? Seeds
The function of all flowering plants is to produce seeds. Once the seeds have grown and ripened, the plant has to get them to somewhere that they will be happy growing. Find out how they do this.
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- How plants spread seeds
- Interesting facts
How plants spread seeds
Plants have many ways of spreading or dispersing their seeds.
- gravity – heavy seeds will just fall off the plant.
- wind – very fine seeds will blow away on the wind. Some seeds have special parachutes or wings to help them fly, for example, dandelions.
- hooks – the seeds are covered with hooks which catch on to a passing animals’ fur; they then catch a free ride to another place where they are rubbed off later.
- animals – the seeds look like tasty treats for the animals to eat, but they pass undigested through the animal. Animals, including birds and insects, sometimes bury the seeds.
- pepperpot – the seed-pod is like a little pepperpot and sprinkles the seeds over quite a wide area.
- exploding – the seed-pod bursts suddenly, throwing all the seeds out over a large area.
- floating – some seeds grow with air trapped in them, so they can float away from the parent plant.
- The largest seed in the world is the double coconut. It can measure up to 50cm (1.6ft) around the middle! Coconuts have a fibrous coating and an air space inside them, because they need to be able to float to a new home. Some coconuts have floated 2,000km over the sea before they find dry land!
- Seeds provide the world’s daily food. Your breakfast cereal and toast, your pasta or pizza lunch and your rice dish for tea all started life as seeds from different grasses. Read more about cereals in our Did you know? article.
- Some orchid seed-pods hold 3 million seeds.
- Kapok is soft, fluffy stuff that comes from a seed-case. Years ago it was used to fill life jackets, because it is light, strong and waterproof. Nowadays, modern plastics have replaced it.
- Some seeds found in frozen soil in Canada were grown and produced flowers – the seeds were thought to be more than 10,000 years old!
- There are some very dangerous seeds, such as those that come from deadly nightshade; two berries could kill you. Even more dangerous are the seeds from the Castor-oil plant – one bean will kill an adult.
- Most oak trees don’t grow acorns until they are at least 50 years old. If you have planted an acorn, how old will you be before you can plant its acorns?
Try growing an oak tree from an acorn in our home-grown project.
Discover interesting facts about seeds Gardening with Children from BBC Gardening
Amazing facts about seeds, flowers, leaves
Even if a seed is planted upside down, the seedling always grows right-way up. How? Plants can actually sense gravity! (Gravity is what makes us fall back down to earth when we jump.) Inside the soil, the roots of the seedling grow towards gravity, while the stem grows away from it. This makes the roots go down and the stem come up. Once it’s out, the stem also senses light, and grows towards the light. That’s why, if you shine a light sideways at a plant, it starts growing sideways!
Why do flowers look and smell so nice? Bees, butterflies and moths are attracted to pretty flowers, because they drink the sweet nectar deep inside each blossom. While they drink, they also accidentally get pollen from the flower on their feet, and then they carry the pollen to other flowers. When that pollen touches the right part of the flower, the flower is able to make seeds, so that new plants can grow! About 80 per cent of plants that make fruits or vegetables only do so if they get “pollinated” this way. Unfortunately, millions of bees are mysteriously disappearing across North America, endangering the fruit and vegetable farms that rely on them. Nobody is sure why, but some think cellphone signals might be confusing the bees so they don’t know where their hives are.
Why do leaves turn orange in autumn? Plant leaves are green because they have so much green chlorophyll, but they also have orange and yellow carotenes and xanthophylls. In the autumn, trees stop making chlorophyll right before their leaves fall, so the orange and yellow colours underneath finally show through.
Even if a seed is planted upside down, the seedling always grows right-way up. How? Plants can actually sense gravity! (Gravity is what makes us fall …