Science, Nature and Tech

Green and Growing: The Life of a Seed

Photo by Richard Thomas

As you know, there is a vast number of different kinds of plants growing all over the world, from snowy slopes to Amazon rain forests to dusty deserts: plant life is everywhere. So how does it all work? Lets start with seeds.

 

 The Life of  a Seed

Picture a seed – I am sure you have all seen them. It will have a hard outer shell to protect it. When it has found the right conditions of warmth and moisture, this shell will crack or split as a root pushes its way out to take hold in the soil. Then the plant will start to grow and a shoot will make its way upwards, with the root growing down, to draw moisture from the ground and provide some balance for the plant, keeping it firm in its place.

Just like you and me, plants need food to grow. Their food is very different from ours, of course! Here’s what they do: the leaves draw water up from the roots, through the stem, and they also soak up sunlight and air. These three things combine to make food in the leaves, where it is stored. Now think of an onion. It is formed to store the food for the plant.

Photo by Alf07

Photo by Alf07

 Wait! Didn’t I say leaves store food?? Well, that’s just what an onion is: layer upon layer of leaves packed tightly together. This type of leaf arrangement is known as a bulb.

 

Where do Seeds Come From?

Take a good look at a flower. In the middle you will see something sticking out, probably long and thin. These are the stamens. On the very tip of the stamens the plant produces pollen, which is used to make seeds.

 

Photo by MerrySparrow

Photo by MerrySparrow

 

Here’s how: plants attract birds and insects, like bees, by means of nectar, which the birds and insects drink. As they do so, pollen brushes off on their bodies, and as they go to another flower, some pollen drops there. When this happens, the plant uses the pollen from the other plant to make seeds. The seeds can then use a similar means to spread on the ground: animals and insects may take them. They also scatter on the wind, like a dandelion clock.

 

How do Seeds Grow in the Desert? 

If you look at a hot, dry desert, you can be forgiven for thinking that it is lifeless. But in fact, there may be seeds lying underground, waiting for the chance to grow. When it rains, they seize the opportunity quickly and sprout out of the ground. Their lives may be very short in the harsh environment, and they may die not long after making seeds. Those seeds will then lie on the desert ground, covered by sand as the wind picks it up, to wait for the next rain so the cycle can begin again.

 

Featured Image by Richard Thomas

Millie

Millie is a British writer and translator living and working in Greece. She writes about etymology on Jump! Mag and on Glossologics, and shares her children’s stories on Kidscapers.

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