From Seed to Seed:
Plant Science for K-8 Educators


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I. Seed

A plant can produce lots and lots of seeds, but those seeds must end up in a suitable spot if they are to grow and succeed. Plants have evolved some remarkable methods for dispersing seed, using wind, water, animals, and fire as allies.

Some plants produce abundant seeds without any special dispersal mechanisms. We've all had-or will have-"volunteer" plants in our schoolyard gardens-things that we never planted but that somehow found their way into our patch. Frequently, these volunteers sprout from plants with a reputation for self-sowing; that is, they readily form abundant seeds that fall to the ground, lie dormant over the winter, then sprout and grow the following spring. Some common self-sowers are foxglove, morning glory, nasturtium and cosmos.

For many annual plants, this is a reasonable and successful way to propagate the species. Since the annual plant dies at the end of the first season, there's suitable space on the ground for the fallen seeds to germinate. Other plants have evolved more intricate methods for seed dispersal.

We will go into much more detail on invasive plants in the next part of this course. However, a discussion about seed dispersal with your class provides an easy transition into how invasive plants spread.


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