They helicopter through the air. They parachute away with the wind. They sail down the river. They are picked up and carried away. They are dropped and land with a thud before rolling off to new places. They are travelers. They are seeds.
Pockets full of acorns. That is one of the first signs of fall in this house. But acorns are just one of the many different types of seeds we are seeing daily now. Some, like the acorn, are large and others so small and light they are blown by the breeze before one can even make a good observation.
Today at the beach we saw so many seeds on the trail we started to collect and document them. We talked about the special ways they have to get out of their pods and find places to grow next spring.
Our Museum of Natural History has a wonderful display about seed dispersal. Recalling what we learned from the display we talked about how the seeds we were observing moved around. We recalled four major ways... please let me know if you know of others.
These fluffy chutes help them to catch the wind until coming down in a place that will hopefully be a great spot to grow in the spring.
Other seeds simply drop to the ground. Once there they may roll away, be picked up somehow and carried off or simply grow in the spot which they fell.
If water is nearby there is always the possibility that a seed will fall into the water. They can then be carried away in currents until being washed ashore somewhere.
The seeds above were an experiment by my daughter. She wanted to see which seeds would float. All the seeds she tried did float but if you would like to read about some seeds that are specially adapted to float this post by Stefani about sea beans fascinating.
Animals help with seed dispersal in a few ways.
- Seeds are easy food to store and many birds, such as
woodpeckers, store them for the winter. Some of those seeds are forgotten or
left uneaten for whatever reason and given the chance to grow.
- Larger animals eat seeds that can’t be digested and the seed travels through their digestive track to be passed in a ready-made pile of fertilizer.
- Some seeds are prickly. This quality makes it easy for them to be caught up in the fur of a passing animal and carried away.
- Other seeds are pretty little packages that are fun to pick up and fit wonderfully in pockets. They are carried about until the joy of being on a hike gets the best of the little beast who gathered them and they are jumbled and tossed about until they fly out of a pocket, tumble along the path and find just the right place to grow next to the babbling brook.
We are going to continue to keep an eye out for these travelers and document how they get around and the many other wonderful things about seeds. We have been tossing around ideas for seed projects. If you know of any good seed projects we would love to hear about them.
Have you been seeing seeds in your part of the world?
Whether it be the beach, forest, back yard or city park there are seeds to be seen all around. Fall is a fun time of year to head out on a seed hunt. How many different types can you find? What shapes are they? How do those shapes help them find a good place to grow? How do they protect themselves? How do they travel? Just a few questions to get you started. I am sure once you get out there with your little one many more will arise.
And because I could not possibly end a post with a picture of scat... here are a few more of those acorns we love so dearly!
Happy seed hunting!