Seeds disperse from their parent plants to increase the chances of survival and establishment of new populations. This is because once a plant has produced seeds, it must compete with its own offspring, as well as other plants, for resources such as nutrients, light, water, and space.
Dispersal helps to spread the seeds over a wide area, increasing the chances that they will find suitable conditions for growth.
There are many different ways seeds can disperse from the parent plant. Some common methods of seed dispersal are:
Dispersal of seeds by wind is a common method that many plant species use. These seeds are often lightweight and have structures like feathery bristles that help them to be carried by the wind over long distances.
The ability to disperse seeds by wind allows plants to establish populations in new areas and can help to ensure the survival of the species.
Many plants use explosive mechanisms to disperse their seeds. This helps to ensure that the seeds are spread far away from the parent plant. When the seeds are mature and ready to be dispersed, they may be contained in a pod or other type of structure. As the seeds dry out, pressure can build up inside the pod, causing it to burst open.
This explosive dispersal can shoot the seeds out of the pod and into the surrounding environment. The seeds can be carried even further away from the parent plant by wind, water, or animals.
Animal seed dispersal involves animals carrying seeds away from the parent plant. The two main types of animal seed dispersal are internal and external.
Many plants produce fruits that are attractive to fruit-eating animals. These fruits often contain seeds, which are dispersed when the animals eat the fruit and then later defecate the seeds in a new location. This method of seed dispersal, known as internal seed dispersal, is effective at spreading seeds to new locations.
To protect them from damage during the digestive process, seeds are often coated with an indigestible layer. This allows them to pass through the animal’s digestive system intact.
Some seeds have special coatings or small hooks that easily stick to the fur of animals. When the animals move, they transport the seeds away from the parent plant. Eventually, the seeds can fall off onto the ground, germinate and grow into new plants.
This method of seed dispersal is known as external seed dispersal.
Some seeds are adapted to be carried away from the parent plant by water. For example, coconuts have a thick, hard outer layer that helps them float on water and be carried to different locations.
Water dispersal is useful for various plant types, especially those in areas prone to flooding. It allows them to start new populations in new areas, which increases their chances of survival.