Microscopy

A whole           in a drop.

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Plants have evolved all sorts of strategies for distributing their seeds over a wide area. Some like Hawthorn and Elder,  wrap the seed in a tempting fleshy cover in the hope that it will be eaten by a bird or animal; the seed passes through the digestive system intact, hopefully arriving in pastures new. Other plants like Broom and Himalayan Balsam have seed pods whose two halves try to contract against each other as they dry in the sun, eventually the pod splits allowing the pods to twist and coil up in a fraction of a second, catapulting the seeds over a wide area.

 

However, one of the most effective strategies for dispersing seeds far and wide is to use the wind. A small seed on its own would need a strong gust of wind to move it away from the parent plant, but add a small parachute and the slightest breeze will whisk it aloft. Once airborne and depending on the weather conditions, the seed can travel huge distances. As can be seen from the images there are numerous variations on a theme; some like Willowherb use a tangled mass of fine hairs to surround the seed, while the Daisy family have distinctly tidier arrangements and look like miniature umbrellas. The small hooks and barbs on the individual hairs may help to anchor the seed once it lands.

 

 

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Left : 1  Great Willowherb

 

Right :  2,3,4 & 5  Various Daisy family

             including Dandelion 4 and

             Thistle 5.

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2

3

4

5

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1

1

4

5

Seeds in the breeze

Garden Exploration