05 November 2008

Pop! Twirl! Whizz! Whee!

.....and no, I am not talking about fireworks.....


although on this day of course I could be!

No, what I am referring to is some of the amazing ways in which plants disperse their seeds.  We already know that the seeds from coconut palms float on water (they contain a 'sac' of air, just like you do when you suck in a lung-full of air to help you stay afloat in the swimming pool).  Other plants, like lotuses.....



which grow in the water have especially oily seeds that also float.

And thanks to what was initially thought of as an unfortunate mishap with a treasured kapok seed.....


we now know that some seeds explode.....


sending seeds out in a snowstorm of fluff!

However, we also found out that some seeds have mini parachutes, so that they are able to float in the air.....


Some seeds have barbs or hooks.....


which get attached to the fur of animals or people's clothes (indeed I am forever picking barbed grass seeds out of my husband's running socks!)

Some seeds like those hiding inside fruits like raspberries and blackberries.....


rely on birds and other animals to eat them.  It was rather fun to discover that the seeds can pass all the way through a bird and end up in the 'poop' (shhh! who said that?) and still grow!

Those canny squirrels have a lot to answer for.  We all know that they try to save seeds for the winter by burying them in a safe place.  Well of course, what they are actually doing is planting them, because some of them start to sprout before the squirrels come back for them.

And here is another way that seeds are 'helped' by animals.  Berries are often sticky which means that they get stuck on birds' beaks.  So the poor old bird has to wipe his beak on the something rough like the trunk of a tree..... 


where of course the seeds might be able to grow.  Mistletoe is one plant that grows in this way.

And now to 'helicopters'; or to put it another way, seeds that are 'designed' to spin round and round and round.....seeds from trees like maple and sycamore.


You know the kind I mean?

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