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Throughout summer, and especially towards the end of it, collect seeds wherever you go - the beach,
mountains, desert, your backyard, a farm, the park, neighboring fields, etc.
Look for burdock, cockleburs, tick seeds, acorns, dogwood, berries, dandelions,
cattails, seeds from box elder, maple, and ash trees, milkweed, and grasses. To help
beef up your seed collection, you can buy fruits and vegetables, such as
coconuts, avocados, and apples, from the grocery store and add their seeds to your collection. Seeds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and their physical appearance is
based greatly on how they move away from the parent plant.
Pieces of fuzzy cloth (washcloth, faux fur)
Tub of water
What To Do:
- Observe each of your seeds carefully. Touch them, feel how heavy or light they are.
Notice their color and texture. Based on your observations, take a guess as to
how you think each seed might travel to find a place of its own to grow. Now
test your predictions using the following methods.
- Turn on the electric fan and one by one drop your seeds into
the wind current being generated by the fan. How did each seed do? Did the
seed drop straight down, of did it move with the current? If dropped
straight down, what does this tell you about the seed traveling by wind? Of
your seeds that traveled in the current, which ones traveled the farthest?
Did they all move the same way? Seeds that can float in air currents are
seeds that use wind as a means of transportation.
- Now take your seed collection and place them on a table. Take the fuzzy
piece of cloth and touch each seed (you can also try brushing it lightly
against the seeds). How many stuck to the cloth? Do particular seeds with
certain features stick better than other seeds? Seeds that can stick to the
fuzzy cloth are often called hitchhikers because they attach themselves to
furry animals roaming through the area.
- Place your seeds in the tub of water. How many float well? Try
submerging each seed that floated. Do they still float as well as they did
before being submerged? The better a seed can float (even after it is
submerged in water), the better this seed can travel by water, no matter how
rough the waves may be.
- What about the seeds that are hidden in brightly colored and sweet
tasting fruit, such as berries and apples? Why do you think they are
colorful and sweet? These seeds encourage animals to eat them. The seeds
travel inside an animal until they are expelled at some later time. In fact,
many seeds cannot grow unless they have passed through the digestive track
of an animal.
Most of your seeds probably traveled by more than one method. The more
methods a seed can travel, the easier it is for it to find a place to grow.
Think about the environments where you found these seeds or where the store-bought seeds probably originated. Did you find the seeds to travel well for the
environment they came from? Any surprises?