How do flowering plants manage to get their seeds away from the parent plant?
The dispersal of seeds is a way by which plants ensure that their off-spring do not germinate too close to the parent plant as that would make it difficult for their survival. It is easier for young plants to grow away from the parent plant as they can access sunlight and nutrients easily. Dispersal also benefits the species as new territories can be inhabited which may be better than the existing ones. The main means of dispersal are:
- dispersal by animals
Gravity is used by seeds enclosed in a hard shelled fruit that falls down from the parent and can roll away from it.
Wind is used by very light seeds which usually have special structures that enhance their ability to move in the air.
Ballistic means are used by seeds that are contained in a casing which explodes once the seeds are fully developed
Water is used as a means of dispersal primarily by plants that grow in water. The fruits are able to float in water and after they have moved away from the parent plant they disintegrate to release the seeds.
Dispersal by animals is aided by special hooks, spines and similar structures that make it easy for the fruit to cling to the fur and skin of animals. The movement of the animals takes the seeds away from the parent plant.