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CLASSIFYING SEEDS BY HOW THEY TRAVEL

Remember how we classified seeds into groups according
to their shapes, sizes, and colors? Now we will classify
some seeds according to the ways they travel. Of course,
the seeds we buy in little packets travel to our gardens in
a sack and we plant them with a little spade and our hands.
Nature plants seeds in many different ways, without our help.
We have many different kinds of seeds in our paper plates.
Some seeds can fly in the wind. Did you ever blow the top
of a dandelion that had gone to seed? What happened? The
seeds, on their little parachutes, blew along, then fell to
the ground. Some of them were pushed into the soil by being
stepped on, watered by the rain, and grew. Did you ever
watch seeds fall from a maple tree? Maple seeds have wings,
and they almost never fall straight down from the tree to
the ground. They fly along, sometimes, in a strong wind, for
a very long way before they fall to the ground and are
planted. We already know that spores travel along in the
breeze, and those which fall onto the right kind of place to
grow, do grow and become mushrooms or other fungi. So look
at your seeds, and see if any of them look like they may fly
in the wind to another place to grow.

What are some other ways that seeds can travel? Did you
ever find "burrs" in your dog's fur, or your cat's fur?
Those burrs are seeds. They are stickery, and if your pet
touches them, they stick to the pet's fur, and where they
fall off, the next ones might grow. Fuzzy seeds travel in
animal's fur, too. And, in the forest, wild animals carry
seeds in the same way. When you walk through a field of tall
grasses, those things your mom calls "foxtails" get stuck in
your socks or pants cuffs. They poke into our skin and it
hurts a little bit, so when we get where we are going, we
pull them out of our clothing, and drop them. Those seeds
traveled on your clothes to the place they were dropped onto
the ground. If they are pushed into the soil and get a
little water, they will grow right there. You better not
drop them on the kitchen floor! Many seeds are carried away
from their plants and are planted somewhere else by birds.
Birds eat many kinds of seeds, and berries, which are seeds
also. Then they fly away. Their droppings contain the
seeds, and when seeds are planted this way, they even have
fertilizer with them! There is a plant called "cotoneaster"
(pronounced "cot-tony-as-ter"), which can only be planted by
a bird. We could pick the seeds off a cotoneaster and plant
a zillion of them and they wouldn't grow. It can only grow
from seed if a bird plants it. Other kinds of plants are
planted by animal droppings, by animals that eat leaves and
grasses (like cows and deer), because, along with the leaves,
they eat some seeds. How would round seeds travel? Why
should they travel anyway? They way they travel is only one
way to classify seeds. They can be grouped as to their
shapes, their colors, their hardness, whether they bear
fruit, if they are tree seeds or weed seeds. What are some
more groupings of seeds that come to your minds?


 
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