How Seeds Get Around

Because they're pretty much stuck in one place, plants usually need help to spread seeds. Here's how they do it.

Natural Hooks

Burdock seedpods have hooks that stick to clothing and animals' fur — and even your hands. The pods eventually break open or are smashed, scattering the seeds. The idea for sticky fasteners on shoes, jackets, bags and more, came from observing seeds that stick to things.

Reaching Out for Contact

Each cobbler's peg seed has tiny prongs on the end that easily catch on clothing and fur.

Picking Up Hitchhikers

This cow picked up some sticktights and will carry the sticky seeds around until they rub off. If you've ever picked them off your clothing outdoors, you've also helped to disperse the seeds.

Berries Go In, Seeds Come Out

Lots of birds help to plant seeds. After they eat berries, the seeds come out in their droppings. That's why you often see lots of little plants with berries along fences and under trees: As the birds sit on the fence or in the trees, they drop their \"deposits.\"

Exploding Pods

Wisteria is a vine that produces fragrant spring blossoms. In late summer, the fuzzy seedpods explode, sending the shiny black beans inside as much as 50 feet away.

Tiny Helicopter

Each seed of the maple tree has two \"wings.\" When it falls from the tree, it twirls in the wind, often traveling up to 100 feet before landing.

White Parachutes

When milkweed seedpods are ripe, they split open to reveal the seeds, each fastened securely to a tuft of silky hair that floats away in the wind.

Seaside Seeds

Coconuts, the fruit of palm trees that are often found along the shore, have a layer of air inside their husks, giving them the ability to bob on the water until the tide washes them ashore.

Blowing in the Wind

Dandelion seeds get a lot of help from wind and accidental contact, and they sometimes get a little help from us.

Oak Trees' Best Friend

Oak trees depend on squirrels to disperse their acorns: the busy bushy-tailed animals bury many acorns to save for later meals. Although squirrels have an uncanny ability to remember where they've \"planted\" the acorns, they may not dig up and eat all their stash, and so, for each forgotten seed, a new oak tree is born.

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