Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. This all sounds very romantic, but I am a practical girl. Instead of focusing on the poetry surrounding our spring seeds, I would prefer to dwell on the magic contained inside the seed itself. None of the new life they produce would happen without the fascinating anatomy of a seed. Planting seeds is more than an opportunity to grow a plant. It is also the entire purpose of a seed, allowing the reproductive body to shine by performing its duties to further the species.
What Are Seeds?
For most gardeners, spring is the time for planting seeds. It is a joyous time, as we watch new leaves and flowers unfurl, our first produce makes its way to the table, and the landscape teems with color and wildlife. Growing seeds is such a satisfying activity. Few things give us an almost God-like power as we help develop life. Planting seeds also reveals the intricate methods of life, not just in its products, but in its mechanisms.
The anatomy of an angiosperm seed is interesting. Seeds are similar to chicken eggs in that they have the spark of life, a substance to sustain life, and a protective covering. The embryo is the baby plant just waiting to burst out of the covering. It will develop roots, leaves, and a stem. Surrounding it is the endosperm, or the plant’s beginning food source. The cotyledon is also contained in the embryo. The cotyledon becomes the first leaves. There are mono and dicotyledons. Monocots have one cotyledon, while dicots have two.
A gymnosperm develops differently than an angiosperm, the group that gives us flowers and fruits. However, the resulting seed is very similar to the angiosperm seed, but very often matures must slower. Gymnosperms produce naked seeds. This means the seeds are not enclosed by fruit. Germination is slower than dicots, and very often growing seeds from a gymnosperm takes special steps such as stratification or scarification.
Inside a Seed?
A cross section of a seed gives a glimpse into a world that makes up our world. Seeing and identifying all the tiny structures that will create plants as diverse as a daisy all the way to a giant Sequoia, is a glimpse into the very fabric of the world. Seeds are the masterstroke of a planner of such sublime beauty and diversity. Something so simple you can hold it in the palm of your hand, has the ability to ensure or derail your very survival. Such a strong promise of a future is a miracle.
The anatomy of a seed is the promise of life, but it is also more than that. Seeds are our survival. They are the entire world’s future. They are Nature’s masterpieces. They are brilliantly designed little blueprints. Seeds are the way to preserve our future and to forward it. It all just makes me want to plant a seed.