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  • Writer's pictureEloise

Seed Dispersal

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

Autumn is such a wonderful time of year to witness many plants and trees fulfilling their destiny. There sole purpose in life isn't to look fantastic, to support the environment by providing food or habitats or even to help us to breathe fresh air - their only goal is to reproduce and make more plants!

In order to achieve this many plants have adapted to make sure that they can produce lots seeds and to disperse them as effectively as possible.

Seeds can be dispersed in many different ways using the wind, animals, birds or even water.

Think about the oak tree and it's acorns. A tree might produce hundreds of acorns. When ripe they fall to the ground and are often buried by squirrels in hoards for the winter months. Squirrels invariably forget some of their buried treasure and this gives a few of the acorns the opportunity to anchor themselves into the ground and begin to grow.

Conkers can similarly be dispersed by animals but their spiky rounded shell helps them to avoid being targeted and their shape enables them to roll away from the horse chestnut tree to establish themselves in a new space.

Sycamore seeds have a fantastic winged shape that helps them to spin down and away from the base of the tree on the wind.

Flowering plants also have their own ways of dispersing seeds.

Poppy seed heads are like a little capsule with small holes around the top. When the wind or an animal moves the stem, the tiny black seeds shake out of the hole like salt out of a salt shaker.

Dandelions have little parachutes attached to their seeds which catch the breeze and settle in another part of the garden. So successful is this type of seed dispersal that it can be hard to keep on top of all the dandelions that pop up around your growing space!

When teaching children about seed dispersal I like to use a few simple activities:

  1. Go for a walk around your garden, park or local environment and spot as many seeds as you can.

  2. Play with the seeds to see how they use their shape and size for seed dispersal.

  3. Break open or shake out seed heads and save the seeds in paper packets to complete the life cycle in spring.

  4. Make up some actions for the different types of seed dispersal and try to match the actions to the plant e.g. Shake your body to be a Poppy seed head, spin around to be a sycamore seed.

  5. Hold a conker rolling championship!

  6. Make a paper sycamore seed and have a competition to see whose spins the furthest.

Have fun finding out about seed dispersal!

Here are a couple of resources you might find useful

seed disperal sheet
Download PDF • 141KB

Paper Helicopter Template
Download PDF • 65KB

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